Mobile devices and applications have pervaded healthcare like every other domain. The potential of enterprise mobility in delivering quality patient care is huge. Yet, it is vastly untapped. Mobile devices enable access to patient data in ways that was impossible before. Practitioners and researchers can gain valuable insights into the lifestyles of patients, paving the way for accurate diagnosis and better patient outcomes.
Healthcare in the US is going through a transformation. While the goal of the new policies and regulations is to reform patient care and broaden the outreach of medical services, it's got medical device manufacturers, ISVs, laboratories, practitioners and payers in a tizzy. With the increasing focus on controlling costs, regulatory compliance, security, and manageability, the new targets for healthcare stakeholders are:
- Reducing patient readmission rates
- Improving point of care experience
- Supporting the new model of tying provider reimbursements with quality metrics
- Adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems
- Developing accountable care organizations (ACO)
Potential of Mobile in Healthcare
According to reports, 80% practitioners own a smartphone or tablet, 65% clinicians view patient information via mobile apps, and 76% hospitals provide internet access to patients and hospital visitors. Mobile is a common platform that's enhancing communication and enabling collaborative healthcare.
Many hospitals are collecting patient data through online forms integrated with their data centers. Data collaboration across hospitals is helping build comprehensive health profiles of patients for better outcomes.
Doctors are using innovative point of care enterprise mobile solutions to improve patient-doctor engagement. A doctor can explain the complexities of a medical condition to patients via visuals on an iPad application. Or he could quickly pull up a drug formulary on it before prescribing drugs to a patient with a history of allergies. Doctors can take informed decisions quickly, ensure accurate treatments, and build trust in patients.
On ward rounds, physicians can instantly pull up patient records on their tablets while standing at a patient's bed side. Teleimaging mobile solutions enable doctors and specialists to view high density medical images - X-rays, cardiographs, etc. - on their handheld devices anytime, anywhere. When required, doctors can collaborate with peers in real time to assure accurate diagnosis, treatment and faster recovery.
Mobile barcode technology is helping hospitals reduce medication administration errors that can prove fatal. Barcodes can be scanned at the patient's bedside to ensure "right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route of administration."
With mobile solutions, nurses and clinicians can engage a ward patient by giving instructions on follow-up care, medication and medical appointments in person as well as via secure email. The patient can be given a mobile monitoring device to alert the hospital if her situation deteriorates. She can be connected to a care team that will be constantly accessible on phone, email or chat. These measures can significantly reduce readmission rates.
Mobile health monitoring devices are proving particularly useful in cases of people suffering from chronic or long-running terminal illnesses, care of expectant mothers and the elderly.
Hospital workflows too can be streamlined with mobile technology. A regular hospital release that takes hours can be shortened to less than an hour if authorized personnel can make online approvals and checks on the go. By connecting patients, medical staff and help desk personnel on mobile, more time can be spent on patient care and less on administrative red tape.
Managing Mobile for Healthcare
Mobile technology holds promise in healthcare but it comes with risks - security, privacy, regulatory compliance and liability. According to a Spyglass whitepaper, approximately 25% of data breaches originate from laptop computers and other mobile devices. To counter risks and support mobile IT, healthcare organizations are implementing data encryption, data loss prevention (DLP) controls, mobile device management (MDM) tools, authentication controls, and other security controls.
Healthcare organizations may resist mobile pervasion because of the administrative burden involved. However, mobile technology is the one solution to manage healthcare transformation successfully. Organizations that realize this fact and adopt mobile sooner will come out on top.