In all corners of the world, mobile devices are changing the way we live. Hotels are using tablets for room service, airlines are using them for navigation, and perhaps no industry has been transformed by mobile devices as radically (and as quickly) as education.
This shift to mobile will inevitably reach the healthcare industry, and because it’s such a multifaceted and complicated industry, it will bring a whole host of new challenges. Here are three important ones:
Managing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Manhattan Research recently reported
that 72% of physicians surveyed own a tablet devices (up 27% from the year before), and found that almost 50% of them used the device while helping a patient. Moreover, IT research group CompTIA found that
nearly 1/3 of healthcare providers currently use smartphones or tablets to access EHR (electronic health records) and EMR (electronic medical records) systems.
Statistics like those raise huge red flags. Security is one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest concern, for healthcare providers. If doctors have access medical records on their personal devices, then those devices must be secure and protected against possible hacks or breaches in patient confidentiality.
Understanding Patients’ Expectations
For every person who loves using a tablet to check out at a store, there’s another person who hates it. People have very different reactions to, and opinions, of technology, which presents another challenge to implementing mobile devices in healthcare.
Let’s say a doctor enters your exam room with a tablet device. He takes some notes on it while you’re talking, and then maybe he uses it to show you an x-ray up close. Some patients may react to that experience positively: they’re getting more personal attention, and they better understand what the doctor is explaining. Other patients may react negatively: they’re uncomfortable with the device, and feel as though it’s too informal of an interaction with their doctor.
Healthcare providers must do their best to understand patients’ expectations. CompTIA found that
80% of providers rate improving communication with patients as high or mid-level priority. Mobile devices can help, but only if patients’ expectations are understood and appreciated.
Appeasing all Stakeholders
In the healthcare industry, as in most industry sectors, there are many stakeholders to consider when making decisions about technology; stakeholders whose needs and wants don’t necessarily match up. It’s likely that IT professionals envision a mobile device implementation plan different from physicians. Likewise, it’s likely that patients and clinicians have different ideas of how to use mobile devices in healthcare.
Each group’s concerns should be taken into account when making decisions about mobile devices. After all, the entire purpose of implementing mobile devices in healthcare is to make experiences better, and if a large group of people isn’t on board, it’s going to be a wasted effort.
Mobile devices have disrupted and enriched industry after industry, and all signs point to healthcare as the next frontier. Challenges abound, but once the growing pains are over, everyone will reap the benefits of having mobile devices in healthcare.
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