James Penny from European Electronique talks about how mobile devices are transforming healthcare
As a recent survey reveals that more than half of clinicians in America use tablets or smartphones, counterparts in the UK are increasingly following suit thanks to the mobility and flexibility they offer. But how can they ensure that they are making the right choice of device? JAMES PENNY, solutions director at European Electronique, explores the factors that should be considered and examines the options available for healthcare professionals
Earlier this year, the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust secured nearly £400,000 in national funding to equip frontline staff with tablet devices to support the way they care for patients.
This move towards mobile technology is unsurprisingly not unique in UK healthcare.
With a keen ethos and interest in increasing the quality of care for patients and therefore patient satisfaction, healthcare professionals across the country are on the lookout for new ways to improve outcomes. However, the reliance on technology in the modern-day health system often finds physicians needing to spend valuable time in front of a computer that could be better spent with a patient.
Enter tablet technology. The recent tablet revolution provides the key attributes of anytime, anywhere access which can offer a number of benefits: freeing up hospital staff from computers for face-to-face interactions, putting information directly at their fingertips when needed, and facilitating error-free communication with other team members.
The recent tablet revolution provides the key attributes of anytime, anywhere access which can offer a number of benefits: freeing up hospital staff from computers for face-to-face interactions, putting information directly at their fingertips when needed, and facilitating error-free communication with other team members
However, how can hospitals and doctors ensure they are making the wisest choice when investing in this increasingly-popular tablet technology? Here are some points to consider:
End user ecosystems: Is tablet technology going to replace the traditional end user computing format? Questions may be raised as to whether tablet technology can really offer the same functionality as a desktop computer that physicians are used to. With the Windows 8.1 operating system now available, end users have the ability to turn their tablet device into a traditional PC-type device. With this comes easy integration with the core systems, allowing a smooth transition as well as ease of use.
Clinical App Integration: Are the core NHS applications compatible with the latest operating systems? Unfortunately, legacy clinical apps that healthcare professionals are familiar with sometimes do not integrate well with new tablet operating systems, as the development behind ageing clinical applications may have slowed down or even ceased. However, trusts are increasingly looking at replacing these applications with technology to keep up to date with the hardware in place.
Authentication/Security: Do the tablets need NHS Smartcard integration? The use of NHS Smartcards for authentication and access purposes is on the rise in many settings. As such, manufacturers are responding and increasingly incorporating the technology to read these into devices. NHS trusts using Smartcards should look to see if this compatibility is included in any device that they are considering purchasing.
Lifecycle longevity: Total cost of ownership? There seems to be a new tablet device on the market every few weeks, so it is important to consider the life of each device. End users should take the time to discover and understand a manufacturer’s ‘road map’ in order to make sure the any device or supporting peripherals have longevity and will not be simply superseded within a few months.
How are the tablets going to be managed: Mobile device management? (MDM) When considering the purchase of mobile devices, we should look carefully at device management. The trend for mobile devices has been driven largely by consumers and so many trusts are considering the possibility of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme. To ensure the success of such schemes, a good MDM solution should be a priority/ It is vital to not only push out applications, but support and manager multiple platforms and allow easy integration into core systems.
If physicians are to benefit from the new freedom offered by the implementation of mobile tablet technology, it is important to take these considerations as a starting point. This should help to ensure that any investment is made with best practice use and progression in mind.