The Healthcare Mobile Evolution: Changing the Mind-Set

Posted by Rachael Pullen on February 21, 2014

IT in modern healthcare is slowly evolving. There was a time when IT in healthcare was limited to desktops and workstations. Then along came computers on wheels which could be transferred between wards and nurses stations. Now clinicians and patients alike want access to data now, in their pocket – in the same way that they can access their bank balance or check their email. Therefore it is no surprise that there is an increase in the number of mobile devices that are now used in healthcare across the country, and with it a number of different mobile platforms and operating systems. Being able to access patient information anytime anywhere is starting to become a need not a want.

As a seasoned healthcare IT professional or Project Manager you have, I am sure, deployed a number of software applications and hardware upgrades successfully; so surely deploying a tablet or mobile device to your workforce should be no different, right? Wrong.

The first mistake that is commonly made is to focus on the device itself. Deploying mobile is not thinking about the device first. First you need to think about enabling your employees – both clinicians and administrative staff alike – it’s about streamlining their workflow and looking at the processes surrounding it. It’s reviewing this information as a whole to see where mobile can really make a difference by making a process more efficient and in turn make employees more productive.

A recent study by the Royal College of Nursing found that Nurses in the NHS spend 17.3% of their time on shift completing paperwork – if you were to introduce mobile into this scenario what would the % increase be in time spent with the patient? At the end of the day that’s where healthcare’s focus should be – on the patient.

It’s a change in mind-set, and not just for you as the Project Manager, but also for the employees adopting the new technology and the new processes. This part of mobile deployment is often forgotten or underestimated. Ensuring that you have considered change, and have in place a solid change management programme, is essential to delivering success. The recent National Mobile Health Worker Project highlighted the importance of change management and even went as far as to say a lack of change management would have a profound impact on the successful outcome of a mobility project.

But, that said, the choice of mobile device is important too – of course it is. The solution of deploying the latest version of the iPad to all your teams may seem like an obvious choice, after all the latest technology must be the best answer surely? But you need to make sure you research the mobile devices available, talk to other similar organisations about what they are using, and how it works for them. Look at your field based staff as well as just those on wards or in an internal clinical environment, what do they require from a mobile device? How will it be used? Where will it be used? What features do you need? What apps and data are required on the device? And most importantly what may be required in the future?

Changing the mind-set and taking the time to define your mobile strategy may seem like a headache, but by putting in the effort up front you will save yourself a migraine in the future.