NHS Dumfries and Galloway has commissioned a security assessment of whether iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches are secure and suitable to be used within the hospital environment.

The report, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Government and carried out by an independent consultant, will look at three issues: an application that the health board is due to trial; access to the board’s wireless network; and the security of the hardware devices themselves.

Andrew Turner, IM&T infrastructure manager for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, told E-Health Insider, “The pressure to use i-devices is really driven by the user interface.

"Clinicians really like the idea of using them, because they make accessing back-end systems so easy and intuitive.

"There are, however, a lot of questions in the press about security. So we decided the best way forward was to get a proper risk assessment carried out. ”

If the assessment concludes that the devices are suitable for the clinical environment, the board will start trialing an application called Cortix from Cambric Systems.

This application will link the devices to the board’s patient administration system, Topas, and aim to enhance patient safety by improving patient handovers at the hospital.

Euan Nicol, director of Cambric Systems, said the frequency of handovers is increasing because of the European Working Time Directive. The directive has encouraged hospitals to adopt shorter shifts, which mean more frequent team handovers.

Nicol told EHI: “The technology issue is how we keep information current and up to date.

"Staff need to be able to pass over information comprehensively and quickly when they are on an outgoing shift, so incoming clinicians can make well informed clinical decisions.

The Cortix app provides real-time information driven by patient lists and provides a full audit trail using ‘tracked changes’ style technology.

Nicol added that he sees four benefits to using an i-device. “The cost to the NHS can be below £250, which is less than many of the Toughbook-style devices; they are small enough to carry round, put in your pocket and use with one hand; the start-up time is instant; and they’ve got three to four days’ battery life.”

The findings of the report will be presented at a meeting in October that will discuss security issues within the NHS and address how the report’s findings can be more widely distributed across the UK.

Link: Cambric Systems