Big hospitals and health systems are making a large and ongoing investment in mobile healthcare systems, says a new survey from mobile health consulting firm Spyglass Consulting Group.

The Spyglass survey of 19 major U.S. hospitals finds 63% have a mobile health communications platform supporting at least 500 web-enabled and secure mobile devices or plan to deploy one in the next 12 to 18 months. The size of the implementation plans range from 500 to more than 5,000 devices.

Such platforms connect to doctors’ or healthcare providers’ smartphones and tablets and other mobile devices, the research says.

“Mobile devices such as smartphones are replacing fixed location computers, pagers and landline phones as the preferred platform for securely accessing patient data and communicating from any location at any time,” says Spyglass founder and managing director Gregg Malkary.

Hospitals are including a wide range of departments in their mobile health programs, such as nursing, physicians, pharmacy, information technology, ancillary care, biomedical engineering and finance. As the U.S. healthcare system becomes more consumer oriented and consumers are taking on a bigger role in managing their health affairs, many hospitals see mobile communications as a way to remain more competitive, the survey says.

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The top priorities for such mobile systems are security, reliability and also meeting the needs of diverse departments ranging from nursing and radiology to housekeeping.

“While initial deployments are often limited to support clinical messaging between nurses and their support staff within targeted medical departments many organizations quickly expand the scope and usage models to include all hospital workers and workflows across medical departments, standalone hospitals, and ambulatory environments and clinics.”

The survey also finds:

•           83% of respondents say they need a communication platform that spans inside and outside the hospital.

•           78% believe a tightly integrated IT infrastructure is critical for a largescale smartphone communication platform to succeed.

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•           50% say existing tools have limited options for analytics and reporting.

“All provider organizations surveyed report that a critical success factor for supporting a large scale smartphone communication system was ensuring that the underlying platform was highly reliable, manageable and scalable to support mission and patient-critical communications,” Malkary says. “The majority of organizations conducted comprehensive site surveys and generated detailed coverage heat maps enabling the engineering team to visualize the overall network, identify initial dead zones and optimize network access points for voice and data performance.”

 

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