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2017 Survey Results Get the Full Report Now

The Evolution of Mobile Strategies in Healthcare

Since 2011, Spok has asked healthcare professionals to weigh in on the development of mobile strategies in healthcare. This year the survey was expanded to include a deeper dive on specific areas of mobile strategies and the results were released in a two-part series.

Our data, collected in February 2017, represents more than 300* healthcare professionals from around the U.S. Twenty-two percent of our respondents were physicians, 13 percent were nursing staff, 10 percent were IT staff and 7 percent were executive-level leaders. The remaining 35 percent were an assortment of other hospital roles such as risk managers and mobility engineers.

*This figure includes only respondents who answered more than 75 percent of survey questions.

How to Define a Mobility Strategy

One of the hurdles to creating a mobility strategy may be understanding what one is. The data we received indicate that there isn’t a single definition. Different organizations have different interpretations, or perhaps don’t have a clear definition at all. So what is a mobility strategy, and why do hospitals need one? Mobility strategies help align mobile objectives with organizational goals. They feed the framework for all mobile-related projects and answer questions such as:1 What strategic initiatives will be included in the plans for mobile enablement (e.g., decrease the ED discharge process time by 15 percent’)? What are the measures of success (the time it takes to discharge patients from the ED)? What integrations are necessary to meet the larger goals of the hospital (easier communication methods among care team members to coordinate and speed necessary conversations)? In short, a mobile strategy brings together elements of security, technology, and communications in a collective plan to improve staff productivity and enhance patient care.

How Common Are Mobile Strategies?

Do you have a documented strategy in place?

Mobile Strategy Evolution

We asked survey respondents whose mobility strategy has been in place for longer than a year if the policies have been updated since inception.

The responses indicate that mobile strategies are largely fluid, with amendments being made as needed.

Improvement Opportunities

Strategic Alignment

One of the primary functions of a mobility strategy is to help align mobile plans with organizational goals and act as a framework for designing all mobile-related projects. We wanted to find out how close mobile strategies are tied to the overall strategic goals of the hospital. The responses illustrate a low incidence of including strategic hospital goals in mobility strategies. The results of this question show that some teams tasked with planning mobile strategies see them as an opportunity to help make impactful movement on strategic goals for the hospital. It also reveals a lot of room for increased strategy behind mobile planning and more inclusion of the big-picture goals within mobile plans. Organizations that do not consider how mobile solutions can enhance clinical workflows and help achieve strategic goals are missing a big opportunity to maximize the investment they are making in mobile enablement efforts.

Does your organization have stated goals to improve the following areas? (check all that apply)
Is that hospital goal included in your mobility strategy?



Who Has Input Into the Mobility Strategy?

For the past several years we have asked survey participants about the people involved in creating the mobility strategy for their hospital. At 82 percent, the IT department remains the most involved with these initiatives, declining by only four percent since 2014.

Doctors and nurses are involved 37 and 27 percent of the time, respectively. These are up by nine and 10 points since 2014, equating to 32 and 59 percent increases. The growing trend to bring clinical representatives onto the planning teams shows that many organizations recognize the importance of the clinical viewpoint. Clinical participation helps ensure that concerns and practical hurdles are taken into consideration and that processes are designed with real-world workflows taken into account. The rising level of physician and nurse participation in mobile strategy planning efforts is encouraging, but their involvement still remains below 40 percent, leaving plenty of room for improvement.

Participation from outside help, such as technology vendors or consultants, has also grown since 2014, up eight points from 14 to 22 percent (a 57 percent rise). These experts bring best practice knowledge and specialized skills with them to assist with everything from infrastructure requirements to understanding change management and creating plans for implementation and end-user adoption.

Looking for help with your mobile strategies?

From planning and identifying success measures to managing a project rollout and end-user adoption, Spok can help. Ask us how we can help you with your mobile strategy planning and implementation.

Is the Strategy Successful?

Are hospitals and health systems measuring the effectiveness of their mobile strategies at achieving their goals? When asked if they have a formal review process for assessing the success of projects like mobile enablement strategies, 32 percent said yes and 68 percent said no. Measuring success is an important piece of a documented mobile strategy that may be overlooked in the early planning stages―but it should not be. Establishing quantifiable metrics at the outset defines what end results are being worked toward, from improving communications between doctors and nurses to improving patient satisfaction scores. Clear success measures help keep planning teams focused on the end goals and can act as a binding agent to unite stakeholders.

The Path Ahead

Mobile strategies are becoming more prevalent in healthcare, and many hospitals are making revisions to their plans to keep them up-to-date. That said, there is still a lot of room for growth and ongoing evolution. One big opportunity is to increase clinical involvement in the planning of these comprehensive mobile enablement plans. Doctors, nurses, and clinical leadership bring a vital end-user perspective to the table and can help prevent hurdles and improve adoption rates among clinical staff. The next opportunity is to weave more strategic hospital initiatives into the fabric of a mobility plan. Hospitals can elevate the thinking about these efforts beyond just adding a new technology or securing data to include the hospital’s annual goals regarding patient satisfaction scores, reducing average length of stay, etc.

Download the full report to explore in-depth the answers to these questions and more on how hospitals are developing, maintaining and executing their mobile plans.


And in the second half of our Mobile Communications in Healthcare series we delve into the details about what devices are supported, what challenges hospitals are experiencing with mobile device usage, and where the biggest opportunities for mobile improvements are over the next three to five years.