Mobile Gadgets Seen
to Improve Healthcare
MANILA, 10 November 2017 — Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile gadgets optimize not just digital recruitment. Moreover, they enhance the delivery of healthcare services – to patients, clinicians and hospital IT staff.
With mobility, clinicians can move freely around the hospital and still access health records, away from their laptops or workstations.
In a report on mobility in hospitals as a key to providing better healthcare, Pulse electronic magazine said there is a healthy outlook for mobile devices in a hospital setting. TechTarget owns and operates both the SearchHealthIT microsite and Pulse e-magazine, which provides strategic insight for health IT leaders.
Before, caregivers usually view patient records and medical images in computer workstations. Now, they enjoy new freedom with mobile devices.
A physician can now talk to a patient and show his or her X-ray on a tablet device. Consequently, there is no more need to carry around a four-pound-heavy laptop all day.
In addition, mobile now allows physicians to do their job outside the hospital, enhancing work-life balance. Doctors can update their prognosis via mobile devices, even as they sit watching their child’s soccer game or dance recital.
Mobility for Patients, Physicians
Mobile technology services have been implemented in many hospitals to improve workflow and processes. However, only a few provide mobile technology for better and improved patient experience during care.
Patients view mobile devices as a gateway to improve engagement with healthcare providers, says Scott Wallask, editorial director of SearchHealthIT.
Moreover, patients may want to view lab test results, and get updates about upcoming appointments, from their smartphones. Some may even conduct video consultation with a nurse – from home.
Physicians, however, may want to access health IT systems from a phone or tablet, Wallask says. A doctor may want to see a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) immediately, while having late dinner in a restaurant.
Meanwhile, IT experts maintain the hospital’s wireless network, for example, so it supports the demands of everyone’s mobile device. They also protect and secure access to patient information, Wallask adds.
“Mobile health will hopefully get to the point at which we can all automatically ask our smartphones about our health condition in real time,” Wallask says. “Data analytics, artificial intelligence and natural language processing can all come together to point us in the right direction and possibly avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.”
Wallask adds: “Mobile technology in healthcare has the power to change how medicine is practiced, and it will be on the IT department’s shoulders to shepherd those transformations through.”
Mobile Penetration in Healthcare
While the healthcare industry is into advanced medical care, mobile technology still appears underutilized, Pulse noted. However, this is not because hospitals are slow adopters to mobile tech.
Experts noted that when the HITECH Act was signed into law, the focus was on requirements for certifying EHR software. Therefore, EHR vendors focused their resources to meet certification requirements, without paying much attention to mobile technology.
The United States HITECH Act is a law that encourages the adoption of EHRs and supports health IT across the US.
Nevertheless, tablet devices have become ubiquitous in hospitals, outpatient clinics, and patients’ homes. Clinicians use them in rounding, remote patient monitoring, viewing medical images, and enabling patients to communicate.
Mobile devices from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Google, or Lenovo are now more affordable and customizable. They also have longer battery life and sharper screen quality.
Even with slower processing power, tablets and smartphones benefit from cloud-based healthcare applications.
Whether in home, clinical or hospital settings, healthcare tablets have supplanted laptops as the major mobility platform in the industry.
Tablets vs. Smartphones
The report noted that tablets have become more acceptable even among radiologists and other physicians for viewing complex images. They use tablets for advanced, expensive imaging software, analyzing intricate studies produced by CT, MRI and other imaging machines.
Also, tablets have become indispensable in giving physicians more independence to view imaging studies outside of the clinic or hospital.
Although their screen quality and size may not be diagnostic-grade, current-generation tablets are still more effective than smartphones. This is especially true for imaging, adequate clinical viewing, and greater collaboration among radiologists and other physicians handling images.
In a March 2017 health IT purchasing survey, the handheld category surpassed laptops as the healthcare top gadget of choice. Handhelds encompass smartphones, tablets, and hybrid tablets with keyboard.
The TechTarget–College of Healthcare Information Management Executives survey was done for nearly 400 qualified respondents from US healthcare providers.
About 30 percent of respondents cited tablets as their top mobile gadget of choice, while 25 percent chose smartphones. Moreover, 4 percent picked hybrid tablets, or those with detachable keyboards.
However, only 40 percent indicated laptops as their gadget of choice.