The advent of mobile devices has spawned new and exciting ways for healthcare workers to communicate with one another as well as provide innovative services to patients, especially those in remote offices and branches.
The first wave of mobile devices included personal digital assistants, followed by smartphones and tablets. The latest iterations of these smart devices now outpace the power of last-generation desktop computers. Besides voice and text, newer mobile devices come standard with web searching, locator systems, high-quality cameras and sound recorders. Plus, manufacturers are building collaboration tools for these devices to let healthcare workers tap into hospital medical systems and communicate with fellow workers, all while on the go.
Multipurpose is the operative word here. Users in most healthcare environments want to communicate with their hospitals’ medical records systems, take pictures of prescriptions or scan medical information, securely text colleagues and make phone calls — from a single device. In my job as a CDW solution architect, I often field queries from healthcare organizations about which devices will work best with their existing systems and how they can consolidate apps onto one device. They want to repurpose their investments into mobile.
No doubt, a single, multipurpose device can boost productivity. The big challenge is understanding how to provide support, especially if the organization puts all its focus on one device. If you have three separate apps, providing three separate services, and the device fails, you lose access to all three apps. You need a backup plan to safeguard access to these services.
Equally compelling for healthcare practitioners are communications capabilities — voice calling, video conferencing, text and email — that let them apply telehealth technology in innovative ways and expand healthcare beyond the walls of hospitals and other facilities. Telehealth and telemedicine today support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.
Within the healthcare profession, video has seen wide adoption, particularly video use on smart devices. It’s not surprising since video can let a specialist at one location remotely diagnosis and counsel patients, and then advise them on whether they need to come to a facility. This is a welcome option for people in rural areas, most definitely.
A patient could be in Texas, while the specialist is in Chicago. The patient might not be able to travel there, but by using video the patient can communicate with the specialist remotely. Plus, depending on the state, Medicare and Medicaid may provide reimbursement for video sessions. Therefore, video can also be a source of added revenue.
Specialized Medical Tech
Besides video tools for healthcare, some vendors have built unique health carts that can serve as rolling electronic exam stations. A nurse can gather information with the appropriate medical device and then a doctor — on another floor, in another building or across the globe — can review the data via video feed, just as if he or she were there in person.
This isn’t a video consultation; it is a true, initial diagnosis made with medical devices and a trained nurse standing by. Having realized the power of video, vendors have gone to the next level to integrate the ancillary devices. Additionally, collaboration tools through most vendors can generally ensure that data and video gathered and shared on mobiles devices are encrypted and secure.
Will there come a day when we walk up to a clinic kiosk, have a doctor pop up on the screen and interact with us as we self-administer the linked devices? This might be far-fetched. But given how far digitally collaborative healthcare has come, it no longer seems impossible.
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