Creating a Continuum of Patient Care Through Mobile Innovation

Charles Barratt, Principal Business Solutions Architect, EMEA EUC Strategic Accounts, VMware's headshot.

Charles Barratt, Digital Workspace Domain Architect, VMware

Healthcare providers have a responsibility to deliver an efficient and effective service to patients, from point of injury through to diagnosis and follow-up care. Yet this remains a challenge many are struggling to overcome, with “pain points” in the supply chain continuing to prevent a more holistic journey for the patient.

With the increasing adoption of mobile technology across the spectrum, the industry is starting to see small, incremental changes within healthcare innovation practices. Technological advancements such as “tap and go” access to static workstations, smart pills, and portable diagnostics are starting to be seen in countries such as the U.K. and U.S.

While talk of innovation is welcome, the reality is that this comes against an industry backdrop of dwindling budgets and relentless pressure to reduce costs. So how do organisations implement these new mobile technologies that can drive critical operations, power the core team, and ultimately support patients’ well-being?

Taking Advantage of a Data-hungry Industry

Data analytics, when combined with mobility, opens up new opportunities for healthcare organisations. Artificial intelligence, for example, is being used to detect health patterns and predict pandemics before they occur, driving optimisation of clinical and operational effectiveness.

The rise of wearable devices provides another interesting trend for healthcare providers to keep up with. Increasingly, patients are embracing the use of mobile devices as part of their own healthcare regimen; for example, using wearable fitness trackers to monitor their own heart rate, step count, and sleep patterns. This data can be used for remote patient monitoring by hospital staff, as we move toward more continuous systems of patient care. Healthcare providers in the private sector should also see the benefits of capturing patient activity through wearable devices, because they can use and analyse the data to help them shape their insurance and policy costs, providing a more bespoke offering for the patient.

Capturing patient data from mobile devices can also enable doctors and clinicians to create electronic patient stats and a complete 360-degree view in real time of their patient. “Tap and go” access to any secure terminal helps to locate patient data faster and determine what type of care is appropriate. Healthcare apps can now capture more data than ever before—from blood test results to medication information, glucose readings, and medical images—all empowering physicians to deliver a better quality of service pre-, during and post-triage of patients.

Meanwhile, mobile devices can enable patients to have remote video consultations, reducing the number of hospital visits to only when they are necessary. No longer does patient care need to be constrained within the walls of the hospital. Looking ahead, augmented and mixed reality are also aspects of mobile innovation that we will start to see more frequently in hospitals, particularly those focused on teaching.

Overcoming the Challenge of Security

Whilst the opportunities are there, the biggest inhibitor preventing mainstream adoption is security. As data becomes more valuable, it also becomes more vulnerable. The use of mobile devices within healthcare provides a gateway for hackers to delve into patient records, clinical environments, and GP networks.

To overcome the challenges this industry faces, organisations must remove security as a barrier to transform patient healthcare around the world. Healthcare managers need to protect patient information through strict data governance, educate employees on mobile security, and invest in robust technology to reduce the risk of cyberattacks.

Whilst the underlying technology will manage the risks of mobile, it will be important for healthcare organisations to realise that the starting point for this transformation is to look at the end user. They need to recognise what their pain points are and work backwards to understand how mobile can overcome them. A combination of video triage, content collaboration, wearables, and mobility can improve patient care even in the face of budget constraints.

Working with the correct partner, such as VMware AirWatch™, can provide the platform to manage the devices that capture patient data, enabling digital transformation and mobile innovation in healthcare to offer higher standards of medical care. It will be important to combine this with interdependent safety and patient experience strategies to achieve quality outcomes for patients, deliver value for taxpayers, and provide excellent healthcare for the wider community.