Mobile Strategies in Healthcare (2018 Results Revealed)
Now in its eighth year, this survey reveals several long-term trends and sheds light on emerging facets of healthcare delivery when it comes to how hospitals support their care teams with communication technology. This year, we asked new questions about how mobile policies are adopted and enforced, and the plans organizations are developing to extend mobile technology to patients. We also dug deeper into network hurdles with Wi-Fi and cellular infrastructure.
Forty-four percent of respondents were physicians, nurses, or other clinicians; 10 percent were IT and telecommunications staff; and 6 percent were executive leaders. The remaining 40 percent spanned many roles, including pharmacists, medical technicians, business analysts, social workers, and lab managers, as well as those in jobs related to patient services and risk management.
What’s Included in Your Mobile Strategy?
When it comes to the types of information included in mobile strategies, they span many areas. Mobile security and management lead the list for 56 percent of respondents, followed by mobile device selection. We relate these areas to risks to the entire health system network and IT infrastructure related to bring your own device (BYOD), having a mix of devices, and different levels of operating system security patches. Next up was integration with the EHR. This is in line with a recent survey of hospital CIOs in which integrating with the EHR was the No. 1 priority for respondents. Mobile and wireless infrastructure assessment was also high on the list of things included in mobile strategies.
Diverse Device Mix to Support Diverse Roles
Back in 2011, our survey asked participants whether their facility sent job-related alerts (pages, codes, or other critical messages) to personnel on their smartphones, and 50 percent said yes. Today, we see smartphones are far more mainstream, with 74 percent of organizations supporting them. This represents a slight decline from a high over the past seven years in 2016. We think this could be due to the jump we see in 2018 for Wi-Fi phone usage. It will be interesting to watch this trend in the future given the slew of new healthcare-grade Wi-Fi devices coming into the market, particularly those geared toward nurses.
10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BYOD
We wanted to understand more about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in 2017 to further our understanding of the current trends in hospitals. We designed a short survey focused on BYOD, and more than 350 healthcare leaders responded.
Mobile Communications in Healthcare: Smartphone Usage in Hospitals
In our experience, the value of a smart device is directly linked to how it improves workflows and addresses caregiver needs. We continue to ask survey participants about the systems and applications smartphone and tablet users have approved access to as they carry out their work. The results indicate a mix of applications that have value on a mobile device. Some, like EHR applications, are mobile extensions of an enterprise solution. Others, like on-call schedules and secure texting, are usually independent of the EHR and are part of a global communication strategy. Mobile devices are often the ideal choice to deliver and manage time sensitive events that occur in the EHR and biomedical devices.
Reliability and Business Continuity
When it comes to planning for disaster scenarios, when standard communication channels may not be available, hospitals need to look at their communication devices through a different lens. We asked about the backup plans organizations have in place to continue communicating when networks are down. Overhead paging is the most commonly cited channel at 89 percent. In a separate survey (see below), hospital CIOs indicated that the many hurricanes and other incidents that occurred in 2017 changed the approaches teams plan to take based on these experiences.
Opportunities for Mobile Communication Improvements
The answer of ‘having a healthcare communication platform for all faculty and staff’ showed 17 percent responding. We see this ability as directly related to the EHR because a healthcare communication platform is effective in filling communication gaps; EHRs weren’t designed as all-encompassing communication systems. For example, healthcare communication platforms can connect all members of the broader care team (physicians, nurses, transport personnel, lab personnel, etc.), with secure communications across multiple devices. By contrast, an EHR typically only covers clinicians.
Looking Ahead: Disruptive Technology
Although technologists love to opine about the next big advance in healthcare, many health systems are still working to incorporate proven technology in an effective way. Case in point, some of the responses to this open-ended question included implementing secure texting and mobile communications support. Some in the industry are calling this the ‘post-EHR’ era as organizations have largely completed their implementations and are turning their attention toward new methods of achieving efficiency or integration with EHR technology.
Onward and Upward in a Fast-Changing Industry
From sepsis response and PHI security to responding quickly to patient requests and the overall coordination of care, health systems today have many opportunities to use mobile communication technology to improve efficiency and outcomes. While many have made strides in addressing their mobile device challenges, slow progress in areas such as Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity likely frustrates staff and can lead to patient safety issues and lack of adoption and acceptance of mobile strategies. The role of devices in everyone’s lives has increased, and care team members feel this acutely. It’s up to hospitals not only to define appropriate device usage, but also to monitor when technology use becomes a barrier to care and human interaction.
Download the full report to explore challenges and opportunities relating to mobile communication solutions and their evolving applications.