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Q&A: How This Canadian Hospital Executive is Using PRIV and BlackBerry UEM to Make His Smart Hospital Even Smarter

As our regular readers will no doubt notice, we’ve talked about Mackenzie Health a few times in the past. Based out of Ontario, Canada, this regional healthcare provider operates seven locations which together serve more than half a million patients. In order to keep things efficient and work smarter, the hospital chain became an early adopter of BlackBerry UEM (formerly known as BES12), an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution they’ve stuck with to this day. They also chose the BlackBerry Classic, Passport, and Z30 for their corporate device deployments.


Throughout the hospital’s partnership with BlackBerry, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Richard Tam has been a champion of the BlackBerry brand, and we’ve interviewed him before. A long-time proponent of BlackBerry devices and mobile healthcare, Tam recently tested PRIV by BlackBerry – our first secure Android smartphone. Along with my colleague Sara Jost, I had the opportunity to sit down with Tam and discuss his thoughts on PRIV, along with the challenges of BYOD in healthcare, how Mackenzie has used BlackBerry UEM, and the organization’s current plans concerning BlackBerry’s product portfolio.

Here’s what he had to say.

Tam’s not the only power professional to recently start using a PRIV. Take a look at these other influencer profiles, including these twin fashion moguls, this consulting firm CEO, this best-selling author and pastor, and this insurance manager. And if you want a closer look at how Mackenzie Health has used BlackBerry to work smarter, check out our profile of the hospital from last August.

Nick: How are you liking PRIV so far?

Richard: I’m always an honest person, so I’ll give my honest opinion on the device. I’ll start with the positives, as there are a lot of things I like about it.

The form factor is good, the screen is beautiful and the addition of the curved edges on the sides is a very intelligent design decision, especially how they were able to make use of them. I also like that they actually kept most of the buttons where they’d be on devices like the Z30 or Passport, it helps it feel a lot more familiar.

PRIV-67The single port on the bottom is the same as the Passport’s in my perspective, and it’s quite good, making the device very easy to charge. I also really like the camera. It’s outstanding, I don’t know whether it’s the combination of the hardware and software or just the hardware, but pictures come out much better than they ever did on my Passport.

I’m very pleased with how BlackBerry has customized the Android OS, and I’ve been using my PRIV daily in much the same way that I used my Z30.

I also like how the PRIV’s keyboard has smart touch. That means I can use it as a touchpad like on Passport. That’s really good.

Now as to the things I think can improve, I find the speaker on the PRIV isn’t quite as crisp as the Passport’s, while the size and shape of the keyboard make it difficult to effectively do two-hand typing. I have also noticed that the PRIV feels a little imbalanced, it’s top-heavy when the keyboard is out. The on-screen keyboard is good, but it isn’t quite up to the same level as the Z30, nor is it as easy to use.

I also noticed that compared to the BlackBerry 10 OS, Android’s data usage seems to be much higher. I believe it has something to do with the way each operating system compresses data, and my PRIV uses a lot more.

Nick: What Android apps do you find yourself using most frequently?

Richard: I use the PRIV’s weather widget, along with Hub and Facebook Messenger. A lot of apps for communication.

Aside from that, I’m not really a typical consumer user. I don’t play games on my device, and even back when I was using BB10, when apps were available on the Amazon marketplace, I’d use maybe five at most. BlackBerry opening itself up to millions of apps through Android is attractive from a marketing and device management perspective, certainly, but I don’t really use many apps, myself.

I do use DTEK on occasion, and I find it gives a good visual representation of the content that’s going through your device. Because of the security we have in place at Mackenzie, though, I’m always in the green. I don’t have any risks allotted to me, so I don’t really know what DTEK has caught and what it hasn’t.

Sara: Speaking of device management, how easy was it to get your PRIV set up on BES?

PRIV-HCRichard: It wasn’t difficult at all. I needed to go and see my IT department, register to BlackBerry UEM and download three apps – BlackBerry UEM, our Work Space Management tool, and BlackBerry Secured Work Space. After that, I went through a brief signup and authentication process.

What I will say is that I’m the only one in my organization who currently uses a PRIV (now available for Verizon enterprise customers and through our direct sales program). The IT team is trying to get one through Rogers, but for the moment, they have no idea how to navigate it.

Nick: How would you rate PRIV overall?

Richard: An 8. That’s not an evaluation of the OS – BlackBerry will work with that and make it better. It’s mostly the device itself. The only points I’m taking away are tied to what I mentioned about the keyboard and how the device seems to drain data.

Nick: PRIV aside, BYOD must have been a huge challenge to support. What was it that made you choose BlackBerry?

Richard: Personally, I’ve been a BlackBerry user all my life, all the way back to the 7210. I’m committed to the brand, and I’m still a diehard fan of the BlackBerry 10 OS. Security has always been one of BlackBerry’s strengths, and that’s essential in healthcare.

That’s especially true on the corporate side.

In the past, before technology, care information was typically managed in paper form. That in itself was a challenge, and trying to introduce mobility to care providers in a way that patients expect added a whole additional layer of complexity in securing the data and making sure the appropriate people can access the appropriate information. Making information easily available without compromising patient care is not a simple problem to solve, and I think most providers and clinicians have experienced that fact at one point.

04-Anderson_BB_MackenzieHealth_108The issue is that there’s a big gap that we need to bridge between how employees operate in their personal and professional lives. And there’s a whole range of challenges, from policy to device management to authentication.

Devices are one component of the continuum necessary to address those challenges, but there’s also the backend and capability on the software side. That’s why we chose BlackBerry, and why we use BlackBerry UEM.

Sara: How specifically has BlackBerry UEM helped you address the challenges of BYOD?

Richard: It has provided us with a platform where we can actually visualize and build on the MDM process. We have a birds-eye view of all our devices, where they are, and what their connectivity is. We can apply the necessary authentication and control access so that clinicians and staff can still access corporate resources like email securely, but their ability to use their devices on the private side isn’t compromised.

BlackBerry UEM also gives us the ability to ensure that data leakage doesn’t occur, and that device logs and lost or stolen devices won’t result in privacy breaches. And from an ease-of-use standpoint, my team’s been telling me that having one platform able to do everything together makes management a lot easier.

Sara: In addition to BlackBerry UEM and your corporate-owned devices, what other BlackBerry products are present at Mackenzie?

Richard: We’re in the process of testing AtHoc for our emergency preparedness team, and we’ve plans to move to the BlackBerry UEM/Good Technology platform, BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suites, formerly known as Good Secure EMM Suites.

Nick: On the software side, what sort of devices do you most frequently manage through BlackBerry UEM?

Richard: People who register on BlackBerry UEM are about half-and-half between iOS and Android. We don’t see many Windows phones, maybe one or two. And on the corporate side, it’s all BlackBerry.

Surprisingly – and this is something I mentioned in one of my presentations – our physicians and providers mostly use iPhones, and our nurses and clinical staff mostly use Android.

I believe this to be related to functionality and application availability. Most electronic medical record (EMR) lab applications, pathology applications and physician-focused apps all start with iOS. They get to Android eventually, but that’s their home platform. Consumer-focused applications like fitness trackers and wellness apps, on the other hand, are much more prominent on Android.

10-anderson_bb_mackenziehealth_046That’s only within our own organization, not Canada-wide. It might be interesting to conduct a study to see if it’s the same elsewhere.

Sara: How has that shaped application deployment?

Richard: It makes deployment easier. The problem is that since BlackBerry 10 is not the choice of platform for people to develop clinical apps, deploying applications to the BB10 OS means time spent customizing them and ensuring compatibility. On Android and iOS, it’s usually just a matter of pushing apps through MDM.

For example, we recently announced plans to implement Epic’s EMR apps. Since it’s already corporately available, we can use BlackBerry UEM to push it directly through to our users, and they can access it right away.

Sara: So because your physicians are mostly BYOD, they can easily access Epic’s app portfolio?

Richard: Exactly. We use a lot of Citrix as well, which provides another route through which users can access a number of apps and features.

Nick: Do you have anything else you’d like to add about BlackBerry or PRIV?

Richard: Having spent a few weeks with PRIV, I’m more than happy to keep using it. So far, the positives outweigh the negatives, and it’s a great device. The screen’s wonderful – I think BlackBerry should capitalize on that if they release future Android devices, they need to find a Z30 replacement.

As for BlackBerry overall, they’ve been invaluable to my company as we embark on our mobile journey. Technology to enable healthcare innovation is a key component of healthcare innovation, and BlackBerry’s helped us accomplish a lot in that department. They’re a great partner to have, and we’ve accomplished a lot together – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Mobility offers enormous potential for delivering the best quality patient care, but there are a lot of issues to consider in creating a secure mobile healthcare strategy. Our new book, The BlackBerry Guide to Mobile Healthcare, and webinar series help decision makers address some of the key challenges. Click here to get your free copy of The BlackBerry Guide to Mobile Healthcare and visit BlackBerry Enterprise Webcast Central for archived webcasts on Why Home Healthcare Should Go MobileClinical Collaboration and Hospital Staff Coordination and other enterprise topics.

About Nicholas Greene