The rise of the mobile healthcare workforce
As digital technology continues to transform our daily lives, the number of things we’re able to accomplish from a mobile device substantially increases. One of many industries that has been dramatically impacted by innovative mobile technology is healthcare — especially within the last five years.
The healthcare industry has employed mobile workers for a long time. Before today’s mobile devices and apps were created to simplify the remote worker experience, case managers were mobile, traveling to and from patients’ homes and juggling the tasks of the job while on-the-go.
Recent advancements in technology have significantly improved the plight of the mobile healthcare workforce. Growth in mobile technology, especially unified communications, has helped to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the mobile healthcare workforce, allowing mobile workers to not only keep up with the demands of the job, but also to improve and enhance the level of care they deliver.
Mobile Workforce: Current Market Trends
While the healthcare industry has engaged remote workers for some time prior to digital transformation, numerous other industries are beginning to see a rise in the deployment of a mobile workforce. According to a forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the U.S. mobile worker population is expected to grow from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million in 2020. IDC expects that mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3 percent) of the total U.S. workforce in 2020.
The healthcare industry’s mobile workforce is already strong. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that more than 2 million home care workers across the U.S. currently provide personal assistance and health care support to older adults and people with disabilities in home and community-based settings. The large number of mobile workers already operating in healthcare today, combined with more advancements in digital technology, solidifies the growth of the mobile workforce in terms of both its size and influence.
Unified Communications: Why the Mobile Workforce is Booming in Healthcare
Mobile workers in the healthcare field may have faced a variety of daily challenges prior to today’s digital era, but unified communications have helped to smooth out some of these complications, allowing mobile works to maintain an increased level of productivity. Mobile workers spend much of their work week out in the field visiting with patients, and a unified communications solution provides a simplified platform for scheduling and organizing appointments as well as accessing electronic health records. Thanks to unified communications technology, mobile healthcare professionals can check the status of scheduled visits, view real-time patient information and communicate with the rest of the healthcare team from their mobile devices, whether using laptops, smartphones or tablets.
In addition to productivity and organizational benefits, unified communications can help a mobile workforce save time and money. According to a report by Ziff Davis, mobile workers save 40 minutes each day, enjoy greater business communications convenience and generate annual productivity gains of 3.5 days per year through the use of unified communications solutions. The report also found that unified messaging saves employees 43 minutes per day by more efficient message management.
The Future of the Mobile Healthcare Workforce
In the next five to 10 years, improvements to the tools and technology that mobile healthcare workers depend on to provide a high level of care to patients will radically transform the mobile care landscape.
While advancements in technology support the reach of a mobile workforce, it’s important to think beyond pure technology and place our focus on maintaining the human connection. It’s important to remember that healthcare is about the patient, and a connection between patient and provider remains crucial even while using new digital technology. As the mobile workforce grows, it will be crucial to properly train these medical professionals — not only on how to use new technology to complete the job, but also on how to create and maintain a strong provider-patient relationship in this highly digital landscape.
As more healthcare professionals begin to rely on their mobile devices while on the job, they will need more than ever to expect stronger security in the networks supporting these devices — especially for mobile workers that deal with sensitive private health information (PHI). A recent study conducted by Berg Insight found that the number of mHealth devices with cellular connectivity increased from 3 million in 2015 to 4.9 million in 2016. This significant increase in mobile devices being used for mHealth reinforces the urgency for strong security to protect PHI.
As the world around us becomes more digitally transformed each year, coupled with the growing need for a more cost-effective delivery of healthcare, the mobile workforce trend will continue to evolve and shape the future of healthcare. And as this extensive market expands, so will the demands of a healthcare industry that is prepared to embrace unified communications to bring mobile workers to the forefront of mobility.