Health IT, Hospitals

How are hospitals using mobile devices for care?

Although the use of mobile technology in healthcare is growing more common, numerous obstacles still block the way to widespread adoption.

Mature Male Doctor Using A Digital Tablet For His Diagnosis.

Smartphones and tablets are commonplace in society today. But how common are they in healthcare settings?

A new survey from HIMSS Analytics, called the “2017 Essentials Brief: Mobile Study,” highlights the use of mobile technology in hospitals across the United States.

Respondents participated in the online survey from February 9 to February 15, 2017. Approximately 129 C-suite leaders, clinicians, department heads and IT professionals participated. Forty-four percent of respondents came from standalone hospitals. Another 29 percent came from multi-hospital health systems and 25 percent were from integrated delivery networks.

As far as organization size, 33 percent of respondents were from organizations that have less than 50 beds. Twenty percent were from organizations with between 101 and 250 beds. Only 17 percent were from organizations with 501 or more beds.

The results of the survey show 79.8 percent of respondents said they use tablets to coordinate and provide patient care, and 42.6 percent said they use smartphones to do so. Despite these findings, desktop computers still take the lead for the most commonly used devices. Approximately 94.6 percent of respondents said they use desktops, and 37.2 percent said they use laptops to support care.

HIMSS Analytics Director of Research Brendan FitzGerald said he wasn’t shocked by the survey results. “I wasn’t necessarily surprised, primarily because when you look at mobile technology, it’s not widely used in the hospital setting,” he told MedCity via phone.

Among respondents who use smartphones and tablets, 76.5 percent indicated they use them to access clinical information. Approximately 70.6 percent said mobile devices are used to access EHRs and 66.2 percent said they’re used to access nonclinical information such as educational resources. Nearly half — 48.5 percent — said they use mobile devices for systemwide communication.

While healthcare organizations appear to be putting mobile devices to use in a variety of ways, there are still a number of hurdles to widespread adoption. One such barrier is security.

“There’s been such a runup of adoption that advanced security was kind of an afterthought,” FitzGerald said. “People had the normal safeguards in place, but hacking has become more sophisticated, and healthcare hasn’t kept up as much as other industries.” And mobile devices are that much harder to oversee. It’s much easier for providers lose mobile devices, thereby more easily giving unauthorized access to someone.

Looking ahead, FitzGerald noted that many people are worried that technology adoption in the healthcare world may slow down. But in his opinion, that’s not the case. “The horse is out of the barn,” he said. “Organizations aren’t going to go back and say they were better with a paper-based system. It’s here to stay.”

Photo: RoBeDeRo, Getty Images