Every day, we benefit from living in the “Age of the Smartphone,” in which a single device has improved how we communicate, how we perform our jobs and how we learn. Now, those same innovations that have transformed how we pay for gas or buy coffee have made their way into the hospital to enhance how nurses and doctors interact with each other and care for their patients.
The unified communication gurus I speak with every day in U.S. hospitals completely understand the importance of this shift. They long ago realized that their networks would be saturated with doctors’ personal phones and tablets, medical devices in every room and on every floor, and communication devices in the hands of every employee, patient and visitor.
Today, most of the 5,600 acute care hospitals in the United States are putting enterprise smartphones in the hands of nurses and other care team members to help them perform their jobs more efficiently. The new “clinical” smartphone has spectacularly combined with new “clinical” mobile applications to create workflow possibilities like never before. Just like virtually everyone who uses text messages to communicate, clinicians are now able to collaborate in the moment: instant information, instant communication, instant awareness.
These new “clinical” smartphones are already changing the patient experience in a significant way. The combination of a true Android smartphone merged with a barcode scanner and a chemically protected outer skin makes these new devices the ideal option for hospital staff. Nurses can text, take calls, scan meds, access drug information, capture vitals or order lunch instantly. While many hospitals own and deploy consumer cell phones to their workforce, at the bedside that option can be limited. Hospitals need something more powerful and more reliable.
Bedside care has always involved barcodes, and that trend will not be changing soon. In fact, every day, the barcode is finding new applications in the operating room, ER, pharmacy, lab, neonatal unit and beyond. It’s fast, accurate and a constant in nursing in the United States. Clinical smartphones will only get faster, smarter, smaller, lighter and more capable in healthcare. Just as we can tap our personal smartphones at the gas pump to pay, nurses will soon simply tap their clinical smartphones to log in to their apps and profile.
The power and capabilities of the new clinical mobile apps is mind-blowing. My smartphone knows when I walk into a Starbucks. In the same way, these new medical apps will know patient history, who their doctors are, who is on call now, if they are free to talk and which alarms need to be addressed. The apps will be aware of all these details so nurses can focus on the tasks they need to do next.
What’s the use of being in the information age and still having to look up people in a phonebook?
Personally, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of these amazing new connected tools than nurses and all the other care team members who are changing lives every day.
Doug Brown is Healthcare Marketing Manager of Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions.