Is clinical mobility all it’s cracked up to be?

By 2022, it’s predicted that over 96% of nurses, doctors and pharmacists will be using bedside or point of care mobile devices. This movement is referred to as ‘clinical mobility’ and it has been prophesied that it will produce the following:

  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Increased staff workflow efficiency
  • Reduced cost of patient care
  • Compliance with laws and regulations and keeping up to date with new changes
  • Decreased medication and other medical errors.

As with any change, it’s often not as simple as introducing technology to help solve our hospital’s problems. Increased IT will also produce the following areas of concern:

  • Changes in processes and systems
  • Protecting privacy
  • Managing multiple devices
  • Education of health care professionals
  • Downtime, slow internet or no internet
  • Limited uptake by consumers
  • Lack of budget to maintain and update devices
  • Digital distrust.

In some cases, the electronic process can take longer than the paper-based or current manual system, especially when it’s first introduced. In the hospital system it will primarily be up to three groups of people to make the introduction of any sort of technology a success or failure:

  • Nurses
  • IT Professionals
  • Patients.

Role of the IT professional

Nurses, by far, out-number any other profession in the healthcare system so, if they are not on board, adequately supported with education and change management strategies, then it’s likely the new technology will fail. The IT professional’s role will become even more complicated as the number of devices they have to support increases exponentially. They’ll have to manage intrusions, privacy, updates and downtime.

Embracing technology

Young, tech-savvy patients are already embracing technology, but not all the older people are (this is not to assume they are not. I’m 57 and an app developer and was offended the other day when someone asked me if I had an email address). It’s this older group that’s the highest user of health services, but only just over 50% own a mobile phone. They also tend to not trust health information technology and information, and that trust becomes more important as they get older.

All these points, and more, need to be considered as we move forward towards clinical mobility. As with anything, it’s usually not as simple as we think it will be.

References

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2017 Mobile Telecoms Industry Review www.tomiahonen.com

Future of healthcare – 2022 Hospital Vision Study 2018 www.zebra.com
Acceptance and Use of Health Information Technology by Community-Dwelling Elders
2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144164/#S14title

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