Use of mobile technology has the ability to not only improve access to patient data, including enhanced ability for clinicians to access information from remote locations, but can also transform the way healthcare is delivered in the United States. Half of IT professionals responding to the 2nd Annual HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, sponsored by Qualcomm Life, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, indicated the use of mobile technology would substantially impact patient care delivery, with another 16 percent reporting that mobile technology will dramatically change the future of healthcare delivery.
Surveyed IT professionals from major U.S. hospital systems noted that mobile technology was most likely to benefit patient care in either pharmacy management, which includes the ability to generate medication reminders or perform medication reconciliation; or care facilitation across the healthcare continuum, such as monitoring patients remotely or assessing post-acute readmissions.
Use of mobile devices by physicians to view patient information or access non-protected health information is widespread, and the percent of clinicians using apps to actively engage in direct patient care has grown in the past year in several key areas, including:
Collection of data at the bedside (45 percent compared to 30 percent);
Use of bar code reader on mobile devices (38 percent compared to 23 percent);
Monitoring data from medical devices (34 percent compared to 27 percent); and
Capture visual representation of patient data (27 percent compared to 13 percent).
Healthcare organizations are also increasingly providing patients/consumers with access to mobile devices to promote healthcare. More than one-third of respondents (36 percent) reported allowing patients/consumers the ability to access information using a mobile device, up from 32 percent one year ago. However, there is a reluctance to provide apps to consumers; only 13 percent of respondents indicated that their organizations had developed an app for patient/consumer use.
“Mobile devices can provide enhanced access to patient information, putting information into the hands of clinicians anytime, anywhere,” said Jennifer Horowitz, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, Senior Director, Research, for HIMSS Analytics. “The availability of this type of data, when used correctly, can enhance patient care, potentially preventing more costly care by identifying potential areas of concern earlier.”
Despite the positive impact mobile technology can have on the healthcare market, there are barriers to its adoption. They are:
Funding: IT professionals were concerned funding would not exist to fully implement the needed mobile devices to implement their mobile strategy.
Security of patient data: IT professionals also reported clinicians are concerned about the ability to secure data accessed on mobile devices, despite the widespread efforts put in place by healthcare organizations to secure patient data.
Healthcare organizations are taking steps to protect data accessed with mobile devices, including nearly universal use of passwords and data encryption technologies, as well as limits surrounding the data that can be stored on mobile devices; 83 percent of IT professionals noted the devices used by their clinicians do not retain patient-specific information.
Despite concerns about funding and security, use of mobile devices will expand in the future, according to the survey results. Three-quarters of IT professionals noted they will expand the use of these devices in the future, with the greatest growth projected for the use of tablet computers.
“We expect that use of these devices will increase considerably in the future as physicians continue to recognize the value of this technology,” says Anthony Shimkin, senior director of marketing for Qualcomm Life.
Other survey findings include:
Respondents continue to characterize their mobile maturity as average – 3.33 on a scale of one to seven, where seven is highly mature.
One-quarter of respondents reported that all data captured via mobile devices is integrated directly into the organization’s EHR.
Nearly all IT professionals reported that their organizations supply mobile devices to clinicians to support day-to-day work activities.
Two-thirds reported their organization has a mobile technology plan in place, up from the 38 percent of respondents that reported this in 2011. More than one-quarter of respondents (27 percent) are currently implementing a mobile technology plan.
Use of apps by clinicians is widespread at organizations; approximately half of survey respondents reported they will increase their use of apps in the next 12 months.
Five percent of respondents now offer an app marketplace, and 11 percent are considering the creation of a marketplace in the future.
Methodology: HIMSS Analytics conducted the web-based and telephone-based research with 180 IT professionals in October and November 2012. All survey respondents were required to have some role in their organization’s mobile technology environment. Specifically:
42 percent of respondents are responsible for their organization’s mobile technology policy;
39 percent of respondents sit on the committee at their organization that develops mobile technology policy; and
18 percent of respondents are responsible for implementing mobile technology at their organization.
The majority of respondents (56 percent) work for a stand-alone hospital, while 19 percent work for a hospital that is part of a delivery system and 16 percent work at their organization’s corporate offices. Only four percent of respondents work for an ambulatory facility.
Half of the survey respondents (52 percent) hold the title of Director of IT and 30 percent are Chief Information Officers (CIOs).