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Flexibility Is Key to Hospitals’ Mobile Future

December 2, 2014

I was in downtown Minneapolis recently for the annual MobCon. This year it attracted more than 500 people from around the country who are interested in mobile strategy, marketing, and technology. This was my third year as an attendee and speaker. I co-presented this year’s session with Jay Miller, Group Creative Director at MentorMate, and we talked about the importance of mobile technology in the healthcare space.

Nurse on tabletMobility doesn’t stop at the smartphone. It’s a much broader topic that and includes the experience at your desktop PC, on your tablet and smartphone, and even with your wearables. For a person to be truly mobile, he or she needs to have consistent interactions across all of these devices. From my perspective as a platform and architecture director for software development at Spok, we have to think about the whole picture to make sure everything works smoothly and mobile users experience consistency across multiple devices.

At MobCon I talked with other attendees about the trend of organizations moving from desktop-based solutions to mobile-based solutions and the challenge this is presenting. Changing to mobile workflows is more than just purchasing new software. It’s an entire process change – from how developers develop it, to how it’s deployed, how it’s rolled out, and how to educate the end users.

For our presentation, Jay and I focused on healthcare. The healthcare representatives in the audience asked us questions about how to adapt different workflows within each institution to support mobile clinicians. They were looking for us to say “this is the way it should be done” and outline what best practices are. I think nationally the industry is looking for someone to create a checklist with specific instructions to “do this and you will be mobile.” But as the developers and designers of software, our job is to make design decisions that give our customers as much flexibility as possible to support what is already working well at their organizations.

Within the development process at Spok, we partner with thousands of hospitals to get feedback about lots of workflows, not just one workflow at one hospital. This means we have thousands of different user experiences to draw upon to shape and change the way we produce our solutions. We start with a template that can adapt to the specific needs of each customer because not all care delivery situations are the same. Think about some of the differences between children’s hospitals and adult acute-care facilities. We want to make sure that the hospitals we work with can maintain their own unique workflows with one product that is flexible enough to support multiple spaces.

Google taught us to start with nothing and search for what we need. Apple taught us to start with quality and never settle for less. Product architects, designers, and developers are working to support intelligent workflows in much the same way, by stripping out the details of a specific scenario and thinking of the bigger picture. And in the big picture of the future, mobility is key.

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