Healthcare’s rapid changes are well-known, but some of these changes have particular consequences that are worth considering. The growth of mobile information access and collaboration in healthcare means that phones are playing a more important role than before. No longer just a means of making calls, the smartphone is now becoming a critical part of healthcare communications and information systems.
What this means for patient privacy, the logistics of managing these systems, and the continued evolution of our healthcare system remains to be seen. Ultimately, though, looking at the data on smartphone technology in healthcare can help us anticipate what the future looks like. With the smartphone’s impact on the industry, it’s essential to understand what’s happening and what healthcare needs to do about it.
If smartphones are going to continue playing an important role in healthcare, it’s important that we redesign healthcare spaces and infrastructure to accommodate these changes in technology. Cell phone charging stations are one important addition hospitals and other healthcare systems can make to evolve in the wake of mass mobile adoption.
Healthcare’s Mobile Moment
Hospitals are a driving force in this investment. According to Spyglass Consulting Group, 90 percent of surveyed hospitals are already investing or will invest in secure unified communications and smartphones. A HIMSS Analytics study from last year found that 75.6 percent of healthcare industry professionals were using smartphones to access clinical data, while coordination of care and access to educational material were also cited as important uses for cell phones.
Good data is essential to healthcare and clinical operations. Healthcare professionals rely on having access to secure, accurate, excellent information. In the past, this access was largely delivered on paper. The rapid transition to electronic healthcare records (EHR) brought sweeping change to health informatics that we’re still seeing unfold.
Clearly, the smartphone has made a splash into healthcare and is quickly becoming an essential tool for providers and other healthcare professionals. We have every reason to believe that this trend will only continue to accelerate, given the impact of the smartphone on other areas of our work and our lives. The flexibility and adaptability of smartphones to fit different needs means we’ll undoubtedly continue to see more smartphone use and applications in clinical settings.
Transformative change like the rise of smartphones in clinical use doesn’t happen without creating disruptive social, legal, logistical, and other change; introducing any new tool to widespread use within an industry has the power to transform its culture and create the need for new norms and revised policy.
There’s so much potential and value to smartphone technology, of course, but there are also new challenges to overcome. Hospitals and other healthcare institutions now have some very important considerations to address; patient privacy is one obvious area, but not all the effects of disruption are so obvious.
Logistically speaking, the introduction of smartphones now means that there are more devices to regulate, monitor, and manage. Getting it wrong could have serious consequences for users, patients, and institutions.
Renewing the Infrastructure
With all of the other important factors for healthcare administration to be thinking about, it’d be easy to allow smartphone power and battery life to become an afterthought. In some cases, existing infrastructure and public spaces need to be updated or redesigned to be smartphone-friendly. One of the best ways to do this is incorporating cell phone charging stations.
Securing devices being used by clinical staff while they are charging may mean the installation of cell phone charging lockers, since protecting access to patient records now also means protecting access to providers’ smartphones – HIPAA compliance must be maintained. When considering the many employees using consumer-grade smartphones to access EHR systems and critical data, too, it’s up to healthcare institutions to ensure their technology is up to snuff and fully compliant.
Providers are starting to rely on smartphone use, but when smartphones are now such a critical part of operations, healthcare can’t really afford to forget about battery life. As healthcare institutions think about how they design and plan new spaces, they need to also be carefully thinking about the growing role of technology in their world.
Patient care is now so much more than just than just a single provider at the bedside of a patient; it’s a provider, a patient, a team, and the technology that connects them all together. Being prepared for this change and offering healthcare teams what they need to serve their patients more effectively is essential to staying competitive and creating a stronger healthcare system.