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Healthcare’s Mobile Evolution: Unifying Clinical Communication and Workflows

· Si Luo,

clinical mobility and PatientTouchIt’s our privilege at PatientSafe to collaborate with our many hospital partners on their clinical mobility journeys. I recently had the opportunity to share my thoughts on what we’ve learned over the years — and what’s coming next — with Health Management Technology magazine.

Technology’s ability to deliver simple, intuitive, mobile user experiences that unify team-based collaboration with workflow and productivity tools have had a profound impact on the working world. One of the latest and greatest examples of this phenomenon is the popular enterprise messaging platform – Slack. From a single chat window, Slack users can retrieve and store conversations, documents, and interactive workflows (“bots”) that integrate with their company’s CRM and more, all accessible on a mobile device. Even Microsoft’s latest Office 365 suite can now deliver seamless collaboration and productivity experiences throughout the enterprise.

So, what does this unification of communication and workflow look like in the healthcare world, where new technologies are subject to regulatory pressures, interoperability challenges, and fragmentation-inducing legacy infrastructures? Let’s take a look at our industry’s journey in “going mobile.”

Five years ago, “clinical mobility” for hospitals and health systems meant buying and deploying a large fleet of computers-on-wheels. Carts mounted with laptops and monitors plugged into walls, and could only go “mobile” for a couple of hours on a cooler-sized battery pack. The carts required a constant recharge, backbreaking maneuvering, and cumbersome cleaning procedures that resulted in widespread clinician dissatisfaction. Nurses and physicians dreamed of documenting and driving workflows on the smartphone-based devices they were already using every day.

Fast-forward two years to 2014, when “going mobile” meant finding a HIPAA-compliant way for clinicians to communicate with one another via their personal smartphones. A few pioneering providers made the switch from voice interaction badges to smartphone-based devices for care team communication, and as more followed suit, two types of end-user mobile communication technologies emerged – basic and platform.

Basic included secure messaging-only services delivered via the cloud. Smartphone-based platform communication solutions lived behind the provider institution’s firewall, offering voice, text, and some integration of alerts. The cloud-based texting products experienced initial success due to the industry’s focus on reducing HIPAA exposure and the appeal of implementing products and services that didn’t require integration into a hospital’s existing infrastructure. However, these messaging solutions didn’t provide for real-life clinician workflows and couldn’t harmonize with a hospital or health system’s existing infrastructure.  Read the full article here.


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