Healthcare News & Insights

Latest on mobile use in hospitals

Nowadays, mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are being used in almost every setting. And that’s especially true in health care. Hospital staff members in all positions are using mobile technology in their facilities, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. 

83404273In fact, according to a new survey from Spok, a healthcare communications firm, most hospitals are specifically creating strategies to use mobility to their advantage.

For the past five years, Spok has surveyed hospitals and healthcare organizations to ask them about mobile device use. This year, 63% of organizations have a specific plan in place for mobility. That’s up from 34% since 2012.

That means more facilities recognize the importance of supervising and monitoring mobile use behind their walls – and with good reason.

Between security threats caused by staff accessing confidential patient data on unprotected devices and growing strain on internal networks from devices used by patients and their families on Wi-Fi networks, hospitals need specific policies in place to address these issues.

Communication boosters

Many mobile policies at hospitals also have provisions designed to boost communication. Out of all participants surveyed, the majority have specific goals to use mobile devices to improve physician-to-physician communications (78%), nurse-to-physician communications (78%), critical test results management (74%) and ER/bed turnover (68%).

While in-house pagers are still popular forms of communication at hospitals (supported by 71% of facilities surveyed), smartphones are on top, being supported by 78% of facilities. Wi-Fi phones, most often used by nursing staff during shifts, have become more popular this year – nearly 70% of hospitals support them on their networks.

Interestingly, tablets are near the bottom of the list (used by 54% of hospitals this year), though part of that may be attributed to the fact that smartphones are getting larger, so there’s less need to use a tablet in some cases.

State of BYOD

Traditionally, hospitals have provided devices for employees who use them for work purposes. But, “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies have become more popular as more staff purchase their own phones and tablets, though concerns about data security have made some hospitals wary of BYOD.

In the past, up to 88% of facilities have allowed BYOD for staff. This year, 58% of facilities allow BYOD, and another 5% are in the planning stages to support this system.

Per Spok’s survey, the most common hospital staff members who are permitted to use their own mobile devices for work are doctors (89% of organizations surveyed), administrators (75%), IT staff (66%) and nurses (50%). Respondents said they allowed BYOD for these professionals for four main reasons: cost savings, workflow time-saving for users, improved care team communication and physician demand.

Mobility & data

Staff are accessing a number of critical databases with sensitive patient information using their mobile devices, which is why so many hospitals have created policies to control their use.

The top systems and applications hospital staff are accessing via mobile devices are electronic health records (EHR) systems (62% of those surveyed), directory lookup (62%), drug reference (59%), on-call schedules (57%) and secure texting apps (52%).

Increasingly, vendors for these solutions are making their products mobile friendly in response to these trends, which makes it easier for staff to navigate these programs with their devices. And that’ll also increase the demand for mobility support in your facility.

With that in mind, hospitals must continue expanding their networks and improving their electronic data security to keep up with the growing popularity of mobile devices. Fully integrating mobility into your facility’s workflow can only boost productivity and improve patient care.

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