In a nod to the reality of rapid physician adoption of tablets and smartphones, the CIO of the VA system recently stated that the VA must find a way to accommodate iPads at a conference on federal information technology.
According to Baker, the fact is that 100,000 residents rotate through the VA each year and “they’re all carrying mobile devices”. In order for them to do their jobs, they want to be able to access resources on the internet.
In an article published at nextgov.com, CIO Roger Baker said
I’ve told my folks I don’t want to say ‘no’ to those devices anymore…I want to know how I say yes
The key, according to Baker, is security. While the iPad can be secured, proper protocols need to be developed. Otherwise, the device can be likened to a “huge unencrypted USB stick with no pin”. In order to facilitate development of security protocols, a pilot program has been launched giving out iPads to select employees in situations where security is looser.
In an easy to understand analogy, he proposed
If it won’t go on a device where you’re willing to put all your banking information, your pins, your passwords, [then] don’t put veterans’ information on it.
As we have published on this site before, there are ways to secure your iOS device adequately for medical use (“How to secure your iPhone or iPad for medical use“). The issues are not always technological, often it is a question of policies and habits of the users. A positive contribution by a large scale institution like the VA can only help to instill good habits and a better understanding of security in future doctors.