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Mobility, Network Effects, and Smart Point-of-Care Mobile Solutions

· Si Luo,

Over the last decade, two technology adoption waves – rapid implementation of EHRs and pervasive adoption of smartphones– shook the Healthcare Services and IT industry in frustrating, but profound ways.

Our industry is starting to grasp the implications of the convergence effect in the wake of these two waves. We may be looking at one of the best opportunities to date to connect clinicians, patients, and families and finally extend technology’s enabler role in improving access, quality, and experience of care while reducing cost in the process. More than ever, our industry is starting to look closer at the point of care delivery versus focusing on the “plumbing” in back office clinical repositories and friction-prone user interfaces.

First, basic EHRs are now in 76 percent of U.S. hospitals. Say what you will, if it weren’t for the Meaningful Use mandates, we wouldn’t have the first level of the nation’s health information digitization at this scale. As imperfect and manufactured as the adoption process was, we now have a basic semblance of digital healthcare infrastructure across the country. Now it’s time to optimize clinician experience and incentivize EHRs to invest in true interoperability – remove code-constrained fences to make way for an open, networked ecosystem. There are many challenges still taking that quantum step, but we have reasons to be optimistic (and equal measures of cynicism to feel stuck).

Second, consider this – 80% of mobile subscribers in the US now own smartphones! Smartphones are replacing any other computing device in our consumer lives and have become the first and last device we interact with everyday. Smartphones drive our schedules, influence our communications, deliver our entertainment, and increasingly, form our habits. Mobile is eating the world. And it is unstoppable. It has spilled from our consumer lives into our work environments, fueling the upward spiral of “consumerization of IT” – where users demand the same level of convenience and delight from their enterprise applications. As large-scale health systems appoint senior executives to focus on mobility, we begin to understand that these are no longer “just another thing to deal with” on the network.

The combined effect of enterprise smartphone adoption and improving EHR interoperability is propelling health systems to innovate at the point-of-care again. Leadership is assessing what mobility means for their institution and what type of enterprise-grade solutions can go beyond simple commodity features (Voice and Text, anyone?) and actually deliver effective workflows, engaging experiences, and measurable outcomes for patients, families, and providers across all care settings.

Smart Point-of-Care Mobile Solutions could very well be an emerging category. This new category combines the possibilities of smartphones with pioneering lessons across Mobile EMR Overlay applications, Clinical Communications products, and Interactive Patient Care platforms. Customers are effectively demanding the convergence of these applications into complementary and self-reinforcing services that all start with one common trait – mobility.

As a result, the proverbial pendulum is starting to swing away from single-vendor lock-in towards a new space. This time, it may not be about 1990s “best-of-breed”; it may not be about IT-centric “best-of-suite”. This time, it’s about the ability to deliver an open network of mobile-enabled services that build on existing infrastructure. This time, it’s about delivering speed-to-value to solve short-term problems with long-term architecture that aggregates local network effects. This time, it’s about reshaping healthcare enterprise mobility with open networks, co-option, and partnerships.

Our journey at PatientSafe Solutions is a reflection of this evolutionary trajectory. Our Mobile Care Orchestration engine builds on existing hospital IT infrastructure and delivers quick ROI to the enterprise. It helps clinicians in the hospital “liberate” data from EMRs, nurse calls, and patient monitor systems onto smart mobile devices to make every experience context-enabled and action-oriented. It drives closed-loop task execution in every aspect of care delivery while enabling true collaboration and patient engagement throughout the continuum of care. With 10,000+ devices shipped, 30,000+ clinical users supported, and over 230 million clinical task executions completed on this network, we’ve delivered the first enterprise-grade, clinically relevant, Smart Point-of-Care Mobile Solution in the market.

I look forward to the day where shop-talk with customers is a lot less about the red badge of courage from EHR implementations and the failed attempts at early smart-phone communications adoption. Instead, our conversations will be about the latest services enabled via the mobility fabric they’ve designed and weaved across their health system. When that day comes, to quote the great Geek Doctor – John Halamka, we can finally “turn the IT agenda back to the customers – patients and providers.”

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