Experts have long speculated about the effects of mobile device accessibility of healthcare. Here’s the evidence
The past 10–15 years have seen no shortage of speculation on how increased accessibility would affect the world of healthcare and medicine. With everyone and everything from doctors to lab results and even web-based medical device a touch or a click away, the ease, ability, and manner of accessing healthcare was bound to change.
Moreover, while jokes about our parents (or grandparents) trying to text or check email persist, baby boomers and earlier generations have proven they’re quite adept at integrating mobile devices and other technology into their lives seamlessly. As members of those generations enter the 65-and-older population, the demand for improved accessibility to health information becomes louder.
Add it all up, and you have the first era in which one-touch access is not only welcome, it’s demanded. Recent global research conducted by Vanson Bourne, a company specializing in tech research since 1999, and commissioned by Jamf, who offers management solutions for small businesses, schools, and growing enterprises, revealed a direct, undeniable connection between mobile device accessibility and patient satisfaction.
An eye-popping 96 percent of healthcare IT decision makers who have implemented or are implementing mobile initiatives reported observing a positive impact on patient experience and satisfaction as a result. 32 percent said they considered the increase in satisfaction to be “significant.”
“The most impactful findings here center on the fact that mobility is happening, and not going away in this industry,” said Adam Mahmud, alliance manager, healthcare at Jamf. “That comes from user demand—the desire to be better connected to their peers, from a care team perspective, or to the patients directly.”
Mahmud added that he and his colleagues were ‘staggered’ by some of the findings, specifically the 96 percent of IT respondents relaying a positive patient experience as a result of implementation of a mobile device management (MDM) solution.
“That is a direct correlation to impacting the patient experience—and more specifically, improving that experience,” he said.
Improving patient care is the most obvious benefit and stated objective of implementation. However, we all watch the news, and concerns about data security and privacy are most valid anytime a person accesses sensitive information—such as medical records—through a mobile device.
“67 percent of respondents said data security was their biggest area of apprehension in pursuing an MDM solution,” acknowledged Mahmud. “At Jamf, the way in which we address this—this is really the heart of what a MDM solution can offer—is to ensure that a device is built with the proper configuration to mitigate risk, ensuring that data privacy is protected.”
Jamf’s focus of Apple-specific technology allows them to hone in on the specific configurations of those devices, and which user features can or cannot be access on a particular piece of technology.
“In a care team configuration, there are a number of ways we can help to ensure privacy and security by talking with the organization, finding out their requirements, and how to translate that into the technical capabilities through an MDM to address those needs,” Mahmud explained.
An example would be the ease with which users can take screenshots on an Apple device—a potential security concern in a care team environment, where a screenshot of a patient’s information could be unintentionally saved or inadvertently accessed by the wrong person. “Through the proper configuration, however, we can make sure screenshots are disabled,” said Mahmud.
That means no potential for accidental sharing, no information getting into the wrong hands—and no HIPAA violations.
Across the board, 90 percent of surveyed healthcare organizations report some level of mobile initiative implementation, whether fully operational or just in the beginning stages of implementation. As for the 10 percent without any MDM solution, Mahmud cites a lack of funding or manpower rather than a pure lack of desire, inability, or unwillingness to see the upside of such an initiative.
“The primary driver, from a tangible perspective, is headcount,” he said. “These organizations feel unequipped with the resources to take on such an initiative.”
Price was another driving force for the 10 percent not participating in mobile access—some felt it would simply be too expensive an undertaking for their organization. While 42 percent of the non-MDM-equipped organization cited lack of interest from leadership as a factor, Mahmud felt confident that even these organizations who did not have any sort of MDM solution could see the value it would offer, citing the 66 percent of non-MDM respondents who said they could see the potential benefits of implementation.
For the 90 percent in some stage of access, here are a few of the most common settings for usage:
- Nurses’ stations (72 percent)
- Administrative offices (63 percent)
- Patient rooms (56 percent)
More than half of respondents expect to see further expansion of mobile accessibility, with 47 percent sharing plans to increase mobile device use over the next two years.
While the overall results of this study can only be seen as overwhelmingly positive for proponents of increased mobile access, there is still a factor of ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’—decision makers in hospitals other facilities who remain skeptical about the potential impact of any MDM solution before the technology is in place.
“I think perception vs. reality—the expectation at the time of deployment opposed to what ultimately happens—may be in play there,” said Mahmud. “But I also think the 96 percent [of respondents]saying that once the systems are deployed., they see such a tangible impact on patient experience—that’s our greatest takeaway.”
With so much growth—from a concept, to reluctant users, to a 96 percent favorable reaction to MDM solutions in health care facilities—in recent years, what’s the next needle-moving innovation for healthcare IT? “I think the focus is continuing along that path—patient engagement beyond the four walls of the hospital, and as the patient returns home,” concluded Mahmud. “We already have some partners and service providers looking to bridge that gap. I think from a forward-thinking perspective, that philosophy of continued care at home will continue to be an area of focus.”
To see the healthcare mobility survey results, visit https://www.jamf.com/lp/2018-healthcare-survey/