Mobile devices in healthcare: Predicting the future of innovation

By Jonathan Crowl

| Healthcare

Doctor using mobile devices in healthcare

Bigstock

The rise of personal fitness wearables is only the beginning of mobility’s influence on the healthcare industry. As the role of mobile devices in healthcare becomes more expansive, organizations are determined to better understand not just the practical changes already taking place, but also mobility’s potential to transform healthcare operations.

According to the Zebra Technologies 2022 Hospital Vision Study, the momentum driving mobility in healthcare isn’t expected to slow down. If anything, increased patient familiarity with these solutions, combined with solid proof of mobility’s penchant for driving positive outcomes, will only help this transformation gain speed as mobile healthcare solutions become a cornerstone of effective patient care.

The Zebra Technologies study highlights a number of benefits healthcare mobility offers, including better patient outcomes, greater workflow efficiency, optimized costs and payer reimbursements, increased workflow efficiency and improved compliance with healthcare regulations. Here are some predictions of practical changes mobility will bring to healthcare in the near future.

Nearly all bedside providers will use mobile devices in healthcare

Mobile devices’ role in bedside care is already considerable. As of 2017, 65 percent of nurses use mobile devices at a patient’s bedside to improve patient care. By 2022, that number is projected to climb to 97 percent, with nurses using mobile devices to leverage valuable healthcare tools: 98 percent will lean on mobile devices to access electronic health records and receive notifications of new updates and information, while 97 percent will take advantage of remote patient monitoring and health tracking, according to the report.

Nurses aren’t the only ones bringing mobile devices to the patient’s bedside. Ninety-eight percent of doctors and 96 percent of pharmacists are projected to use devices for similar reasons. Overall, up to 40 percent of all hospital staff will be using mobile devices to improve patient care and workplace efficiency.

Most patients will welcome the use of mobile solutions

Patient comfort with new mobile technologies is paramount to their success. Although some patients might understandably have concerns about data privacy and the dependability of new technologies in providing medical care, the vast majority of the population will be comfortable and even encouraging, of the role mobile devices will play in their care.

Seventy-seven percent of patients surveyed in the study said they had positive feelings about clinicians using mobile devices to improve their care, and 95 percent of patients are already willing to share electronic health metrics collected through their personal wearables. This is a big opportunity for healthcare providers; opening up access to new patient data streams could be significant in terms of monitoring, assessing and improving patient health. As the study notes, 57 percent of patients already use health tracking wearables of some kind, so the built-in audience is already there — and over time, this data might become even more widely available.

Care will improve, and errors will decline

From the patient perspective, the most important benefit of using mobile devices in healthcare settings is the ability to improve overall patient care. The ability to improve workflows and cut operational costs are not necessarily selling points healthcare companies can use to curry favor with the patient population, but there’s plenty of evidence showing that patients benefit from mobile healthcare in significant, measurable ways. The study found that 72 percent of hospitals report improved quality of patient care when providers use mobile devices.

Nurses are already looking to the future by seeking predictive analytics solutions to improve patient care, especially when addressing new or emerging conditions. Predictive solutions could, for example, identify early signs of stroke, embolisms and a range of other conditions, speeding up treatment and minimizing the damage created by these developments.

Mobility has already made a profound impact on reducing errors in hospitals. Sixty-one percent of nurses report reduced medication administration errors thanks to the use of mobile devices, electronic health records and other mobile solutions. The error rate for specimen collection labeling was reduced by 52 percent with the use of mobility, and errors related to communication breakdowns dropped by 46 percent.

Overall, the rate of preventable medical errors declined by 46 percent. Fewer mistakes mean lower costs, more efficient operations and dramatically improved patient care. As a supplement to human professionals, mobile devices offer stability and accuracy that make hospitals safer and more reliable.

Healthcare organizations are embracing mobile solutions, and patients recognize the value of using technology to support medical care. The challenges ahead involve increasing adoption of mobile solutions and expanding the suite of mobile healthcare devices and software, giving providers access to more tools that enable better overall patient care.