My computer isn’t a phone charger?

It’s quite common to walk through an office (medical or otherwise) these days and see cell phones connected to computers via a USB cable. The most likely cause? The phone needs to be charged and there’s not a wall outlet or adapter available. But are they any safety and security concerns that providers should know about this practice?

As it turns out, there are some issues that you need to be aware of when connecting your phone to your computer, even if it’s just to charge it. Some phones are recognized by the computer as a small, portable hard drive; others will request that software be installed to manage the phone. Either of these two scenarios can create security issues and concerns. HealthIT.gov has a section devoted to Mobile Device Privacy and Security that covers topics including management of mobile devices, frequently asked questions, case studies, and information on protection and encryption of mobile devices. If you or your staff use mobiles devices in your practice, we encourage you to visit HealthIT.gov to obtain more information about this topic.

Another good reason not to charge your phone via USB on your computer? The power flow from a USB drive is not consistent and can cause the battery on your phone to degrade prematurely.