Normally, I don’t like to broach subjects that might cause more scare to the public than be a provider of information. But on this topic I also have my personal concerns. Cell/smart phones (what we used to call PDAs) are very prevalent today in healthcare. Why, you ask? Because clinicians, especially physicians, seem to be much more comfortable with their smart phones than the computers. In addition, they are much more accessible than the computers that are in their offices or homes. Who doesn’t like having that almost-computer in their pocket?
So what does that mean for privacy and security? The first thing I think of is that Google can monitor where I am as long as I have my GPS turned on – which is all the time. Texts are stored on my phone. If I were to lose it, have it stolen, or just leave it lying on any surface then anyone can look at that information. Most people that I know do not utilize the password functions on the smart phones. Who wants to enter a password every time they want to access their phone? The camera functions seem to be causing quite a stir because while it may be helpful to snap that photo of the condition to send to the doctor – who may be remote from where the patient is seen – it is also very easy to snap pictures when the patient does not know that they are the subject or I have even read of actual patient data on a computer screen being the subject of a camera capture.
What do you think about the use of smart phones in the clinical setting?
And a follow up to come on the use of applications for those smart phones by physicians and clinicians that are specifically designed for viewing patient information or dictation.