Only six or seven years ago, when those of us in health IT referred to a “mobility strategy,” we were talking about putting a PC on a cart. We did have some single-purpose, handheld devices that helped with medication administration or supply management. And of course there were pagers and legacy phones, but they were incapable of being used for anything beyond rudimentary communication.
Back then, it seemed no matter how much thoughtful planning and clinical input went into each new mobility effort, every solution we tried to deploy in the hospital setting was simply wrong. Carts were too bulky. Batteries died too quickly. Screens were too hard to read. Nurses inevitably found it easier to jot down notes, walk to a PC, and enter the information into the system – exactly the scenario we were trying to avoid.
Fast forward to 2014. The incredible surge of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices for the consumer market has sparked a demand for the same kind of options in healthcare. Last week, I read that the third annual Epocrates Mobile Trends Report found 41 percent of clinicians have become “digital omnivores,” routinely using tablets, smartphones and desktop computers to do their jobs. Next year that number is expected to grow to 74 percent!
Nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physician assistants were found to be the heaviest users of mobile technologies, with more than 80 percent of them reporting that mobile use has led to improved patient care. After all, that’s what healthcare technology is supposed to be all about. If we can help clinicians work more efficiently, redirect their time to patient care and accelerate treatment, we’ll have more satisfied clinicians and more satisfied patients.
When Voalte was founded in 2008, it provided the first opportunity to leverage smartphones for critical communication and information exchange across the continuum of care in the form of voice, alarms and text. In other words, Voalte began “feeding” digital omnivores with a mobile platform before the term even existed.
While Meaningful Use-driven EHR adoption has kept the use of traditional desktops high, clinicians are clearly demanding mobility options that will match their workflow and be an extension of the EHR. Just as Voalte responded six years ago to the healthcare industry’s need for mobile communication solutions, we are perfectly positioned today to answer the need for integration with the electronic medical record, barcode medication administration and other advanced mobile technologies.
I don’t know who coined the term “digital omnivore,” but it’s gratifying to be at the forefront of the mobile health movement, providing technology that helps caregivers improve patient care.