Mobile + medicine = change — good change

Granrt Fjermedal, a writer for Insight Enterprises

Grant Fjermedal, a writer for Insight Enterprises

Mobility is enhancing the delivery of healthcare in the clinic and in the home.

Paper charts are giving way to electronic health record (EHR) apps that physicians and nurses tote about on a tablet, laptop or other mobile device. Patients once kept in the hospital extra days “for observation” are being sent home with monitoring devices that sense vital signs like blood pressure, blood chemistry and heart rate. They transmit this data back to the hospital via wireless communication. Even the stethoscope is going digital, capturing recordings that can be visualized and scrutinized from desktop or mobile devices.

Tablets, ultralight laptops and smartphones are part of the mobile story. Another part is played by the ever-growing array of monitoring devices with the ability to transmit data through wireless connectivity. These devices, often referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), are already playing important roles in the delivery of healthcare, with larger roles anticipated.

This all sounds great, and it is great. But bringing mobile devices into the realm of healthcare, with all of its privacy and security concerns and regulatory mandates, can pose challenges. Healthcare organizations contemplating the most efficient and secure ways of integrating mobile devices – including IoT – into clinical and related environments should perform a thorough discovery process to see what solutions might best help them enhance care delivery without jeopardizing protected data.

Discovery collaboration

Healthcare is all about collaboration, so a great way to begin your mobile devices discovery process is by creating a cross-functional team that brings together senior management (ideally the CEO), physicians, nurses, technicians and others from the clinical side. Also included should be stakeholders from the business side such as IT, security, compliance, legal, Human Resources (HR) and other areas.

A cross-functional team provides a wealth of perspectives on how use of mobile devices can help create value for patients and practitioners, as well as collective knowledge on how to safeguard against downside issues – including the critical area of security, and the challenge of accommodating Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) users. As always with healthcare, at the top of everyone’s validation list should be security, confidentiality and regulatory compliance.

Getting a second opinion

In the same way clinicians sometimes seek to validate a difficult diagnosis through getting a second opinion, your cross-functional team can benefit from bringing in an independent, vendor-neutral advisor to provide guidance based upon how they are seeing others solve similar challenges within healthcare.

A good advisor should also encourage exploratory thinking. This can involve interviewing physicians, nurses, compliance, IT, HR and other stakeholders to get a feel for what works now, and how mobile devices and IoT could be deployed to make things better. Such exploration can help define an environment that is collaborative and exciting — an environment that will attract and retain new talent and inspire your existing talent.

Prescription for success

Your cross-functional discovery team may want to prescribe (and guide) adoption of Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), which is a set of policies – often implemented, at least in part, through EMM applications – that guide an organization’s deployment, use and management of mobile devices. HR, legal and compliance should be important players in drafting your mobile device policies and guidelines to ensure data is protected in compliance with HIPAA and other regulations, as well as your own internal policies.

EMM is another area where an independent, third-party advisor can provide guidance on policies that other healthcare organizations have adopted, as well as the applications used for policy implementation. Make sure your policies include protection of data generated by IoT devices that transmit patient data.

Intensive care for security

Whenever there is a security breach involving medical records, it tends to make headlines. Security must be pursued with intensity – including the protection of data on mobile and IoT devices. Encryption should be used throughout your healthcare IT environment, including on EHR tablets, notebooks, laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices. Encryption should also be used on all IoT devices transmitting patient data or other sensitive information.

You may also want to consider Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) technology to protect mobile devices. From a security standpoint, VDI is powerful because all data is stored on the server – not on the device. This means that if a clinician or technician loses a VDI-based tablet, laptop or smartphone, it contains no patient data or other protected information.

From security software provisioning to security software verification, from multi-factor authorization to role-based authentication, from geofencing to containerization and remote wiping, there are many ways you can help secure your mobile devices and IoT so they can be used safely to enhance the delivery of healthcare.

Learn more

To learn more about healthcare devices discovery — including best practices for discovery and pitfalls to avoid – download our Insight whitepaper, “10 Best Practices for Discovering the Best Mobile and IoT Devices for Healthcare.”

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