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A Mobility Checkup

Notes from the Healthcare Innovation Challenge

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By Roger Bjork

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I recently attended the Healthcare Innovation Challenge where I met some customers and took a look at various healthcare IT challenges and innovations. I came away with a couple of strong impressions about the role of mobility in healthcare, in addition to some best practices for healthcare companies to follow.

First, it was exciting to see how integrated mobility is with the core mission of many of the companies, and how important it has become for healthcare workers to be untethered from a PC or workstation. For example, a medical scanning and data collection company can now run its scanners from a remote location using tablets, which has increased safety by enabling technicians to review data in real-time without being in the same room as the diagnostic equipment. Tablets have also increased efficiency and productivity by enabling fewer technicians to monitor multiple scanners, and the touch user interface—swiping and pinching to analyze the scans, for example—is far preferable to traditional mouse clicks.

Another company provides brain exercises—in the form of role-playing games—for patients who have experienced brain trauma. The games are played exclusively on tablets, offering more flexibility for patients and providing a familiar, effective and fun user interface that encourages usage.

Many companies at the event made it clear that they still face major challenges to mobility. HIPAA and other privacy regulations require every mobile strategy involving patient data to meet stringent requirements. Is patient data stored on a device? How is it secured? Can non-authorized users access private information? Can the compliance of the device be validated?

In developing a security strategy for their mobile devices, healthcare companies struggle with choosing among various options, including a secure workspace and virtualization. Virtualization stores no information on the device, while a secure workspace stores data on the device in a protected container, which IT can wipe (though not a user’s personal information) if necessary. Fortunately, organizations aren’t limited to one path—many use both solutions for users with different risk profiles.

Another difficulty for many healthcare providers is that tech-savvy workers, especially doctors and nurses, are driving the demand for mobility, putting significant pressure on IT to move more rapidly than they otherwise would

So how can healthcare companies overcome these challenges? Consider these simple best practices:

  • Map out all your different use cases—including what users want—and study the available technologies. Then choose the mix of solutions that satisfies your needs.
  • Don’t consider just today’s use cases. Anticipate future innovations. For example, some devices already have built­-in heart-rate monitors. Other biometric capabilities coming to devices include identifying fingerprints, faces, voices and irises. To keep progressing on your mobility journey, track the technologies in development and plan for how to integrate them into your workflows.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of feeling that you can’t deal with the explosion of new capabilities. By focusing on users and workflows, you can look at every new capability as an opportunity to improve productivity, drive down costs and improve the ways healthcare is delivered.
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