The evolving healthcare industry: How enterprise mobility is improving transparency

Last year the Economist released a report examining how mobile technology is transforming the healthcare industry.

Their findings, from their survey of 144 healthcare leaders in both the public and private sector, found that through the deployment of mobile technology, the reduction of operational stresses on healthcare organisations was perceived to be the third most positive outcome behind patients having greater access to medical information and their own personal data; the latter two we explored in a blog centered on the self-care trend earlier this month.

These findings highlight that whilst the deployment of technology within the healthcare industry should place the consumer high on the priority list, the internal needs of the organisation should also be a key focus as we look to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the way organisations within the healthcare sector operate.

In this blog, we’ll be exploring the implications of embracing the growing trend of enterprise mobility and the positive impact this is having on transparency for all stakeholders involved.

1.Reducing data loss

By its very nature the healthcare industry has been touched, and defined, by cutting edge technology for years yet its infrastructure is still heavily governed by paper based processes that equate to large inefficiencies and operating costs.

Following the government’s announcement earlier this month that the NHS intends to fulfill its ambition to become ‘paperless’ by 2018, an evaluation by organisations into their current internal infrastructure and the way their data is governed is particularly timely.

The media is frequently littered with reports of data loss within the healthcare sector – in 2014 a report was commissioned to reveal that 2,000 patient records were lost everyday.

We’re also seeing incidents where confidential information is simply thrown into bins, dropped in the street or left in compromising places for the world to see – in 2012 a healthcare trust reported a staff member had left a clipboard containing personal information in a grocery store.

Through the continuation of archaic processes and an over reliance on paper, organisations not only leave themselves too easily vulnerable to data loss and ‘over-share’ but are also operating in highly inefficient ways in a world that is moving towards digital governance.

Through the deployment of technology, organisations are able to build secure and comprehensive systems that account for even the simplest of tasks such as notetaking right through to the management of more complex and intricate procedures, ultimately improving transparency, efficiency and security across the organisation.

Here at Apadmi Enterprise we’re seeing this first hand partnering with an NHS trust as part of the Five Year Forward View, replacing a paper-based process with a tablet and server solution that is improving data capture, accuracy and is allowing nurses to spend more time with their patients.

2. Improved internal communications: the death of the pager?

Could a movement towards enterprise mobility see the death of the much-loved pager that is still commonplace within healthcare organisatons around the world?

As a society, we’ve clearly moved on from pager technology that was rife within the 90’s yet this technology is still firmly cemented within the hospital environment, primarily through a risk averse outlook and unfamiliarity with what other alternative and more advanced solutions are out there.

In a relocation study of Peterborough City Hospital, the drawbacks of an over-reliance on archaic pager technology was highlighted –research suggested that a person who is paged can spend 20% of their time looking for and waiting on phones.

Through communication flaws, people could also spend up 10 to 15 minutes looking for a staff member and few hospitals can say with certainty how many pagers they have and whether they are switched on or working. This leads to hospitals paying rent or maintenance on pagers which it believes are lost but, because no one can be sure which devices are missing, the hospital is obliged to keep paying.

With over 70% of nurses owning a smartphone and such technology for personal use being leaps and bounds ahead of technology provided to support their professional work, it is clearly time of a rethink.

We have partnered with global communications providers Mitel and Zetacom to transform the pagers used in the largest hospital in the Netherlands, the University Medical Center Utrecht with smartphone technology. The app, which is part of a private and secure GSM network, plays a crucial role in critical communication allowing doctors and nurses to be alerted to an emergency and its location, confirm receipt of the notification and share their intended action, ultimately improving transparency and efficiency within the workplace.

3. Improved patient care

In addition to the mounting pressure hospitals are facing in order to adapt to change and deploy a digital focus, life sciences enterprises within the healthcare sector are also undergoing tremendous change on a number of fronts.

Such companies are challenged more than ever with providing and ensuring continuous and effective supply and delivery of services, drugs and equipment and improving the quality of patient care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have reported that over 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from adverse drug events, which may cost up to $5.6m each year.

This highlights there is a problem there to be addressed and an appreciation of the wider value chain within the healthcare sector is crucial.

Mobile apps can improve the productivity and effectiveness of the installation and maintenance of medical devices in clinics, guiding technicians through diagnosis, calibration and repair, helping them work better and faster. Apps can also help bio-pharma companies ensure high manufacturing and supply standards, guiding workers seamslessly through their jobs in addition to being deployed by Quality Control teams for recording results and making lot disposition decisions in a more accurate and timely fashion.

Physicians can use apps to access real time info on a patient’s test results and a submit a prescription electronically to the pharmacy who can then notify the patient virtually followed by an automated delivery service. An intelligent app would be one that compresses the value chain even further by considering the patient’s results, formulating a diagnoses and treatment plan for the physician’s approval.

The use cases for mobile in this context are vast yet there is a common theme that runs throughout – through the deployment of mobile apps, remote and virtual automation is enabled removing the propensity for manual errors, leading to greater accuracies and therefore quality of patient care.

4. Improved daily work life cycle

Enterprise mobility, by its very nature, is mobilising the workforce.

Mobile technology is unleashing employees from their desktops, allowing them to perform day-to-day tasks remotely and in a more informed fashion from the data that is being gleaned from the development of comprehensive and intelligent IT systems.

As a result we’re seeing faster response times and increased productivity by those stakeholders involved. At the same time, bringing the simple and intuitive paradigms of mobile computing back to the desktop enables mobile devices to become the new way of working – even for those who never leave their desks.

Mobile computing is moving beyond automating a form or a transaction; it becomes about improving the daily work cycle for healthcare staff and giving them the power and insight to work more efficiently and effectively.

The mobile foundations of an organisation should be viewed as a multi-dimensional ecosystem and should holistically understand all stakeholder functions and all processes involved.

That being said, the move towards a complete digital focus can undeniably be a daunting prospect for many, particularly for behemoth organisations who have archaic processes engrained within them.

The move towards a digital workplace should be planned out as a carefully considered roadmap which can be addressed in stages, albeit stages that can unite and form a comprehensive infrastructure in the longer term.

Mobile is undoubtedly a transformational tool that is reshaping healthcare and the time is now to embrace it as we move toward as a paperless industry.