The Answer is Mobile

By John Freund

he question continues to be asked – what will hospitals do to survive in this healthcare economy? If you read the JumpTech blog, you know I believe they need to act fast and make broad change within the business side of their organization.  And one of the things that will enable this change is mobile technology.

This is not your dad’s mobile. The old days of a big, heavy device being dragged around by a hospital employee to perform a single task are gone. Today, multiple applications covering a wide variety of processes – from real-time patient monitoring to updates to the patient’s electronic health record, to drug interaction reporting to supply use and requests for replenishment – can reside on a single device.  And though I’ve heard some hospital leaders express concerns about mobile, Apple recently released a research study reporting 75 percent of the hospitals in the U.S. either have a mobile initiative currently underway or have plans to launch a mobile initiative.

Smart device technology (iOS, Android, Windows Mobile-based devices) brings many benefits.  Here are a few highlights:

First, the mobile platforms of yesterday were proprietary. They could only run the single application for which they were purchased.  Smart devices can run many different applications from many different vendors.  How many apps do you have running on your personal phone?  You find apps to help you with many common tasks in your day. Why not have that same freedom for apps that increase staff productivity in your hospital?  If you are buying proprietary mobile devices that run proprietary software in today’s world, you’re doing your hospital a disservice.

Second, apps on smart devices are easy to keep updated. Hospital IT departments have enough to do.  Managing software on devices can be a very time consuming process.  The result is that software on proprietary devices isn’t kept up-to-date and the hospital doesn’t benefit from new cost saving features offered in the software. On a smart device you have app stores and operating systems that take care of the device management for you, saving the IT expense and ensuring that you’re running the most recent release of the software.

Next, smart devices make it easier to “see” throughout your organization and with hospital systems growing in complexity and reach, that’s becoming even more important. Much discussion takes place about reporting on care from the actual patient bedside or the patient’s home, and advancements in mHealth will revolutionize the delivery of healthcare. My focus is on the business side of the organization: what if you could “see” your entire supply chain and report on supply use, regardless of where that supply is stored or used? What if your inventory reporting tools could tell you actual velocity for every item that exits out in your organization – easily, seamlessly and accurately? With today’s smart devices, staff adoption becomes easier and usage more consistent, which enhances visibility and makes reporting more accurate. Good data becomes the cornerstone of your business processes.

And finally, implementation of systems that leverage smart device technology is fast and inexpensive.  All of the smart device operating systems have standards developers must follow when building their apps. This provides a consistency of user interface across applications, which makes training users simple and fast. With low start-up costs, hospitals can quickly achieve return on investment and additional savings using mobile.  Your organization will benefit from better, more accurate data and reporting; satisfaction among your clinical team (as well as your supply chain team) can quickly grow; and you’ll have the information you need to make smart decisions for your hospital business.

Mobile is sure to be the game changer for hospital technology – get started now. The benefits are too huge to wait any longer.