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Report: Hospital Staff Continue to Use a Diverse Mix of Mobile Devices, Including Pagers

May 2, 2017
by Heather Landi
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In order to do their jobs, hospital clinicians and non-clinical staff still carry a diverse mix of mobile devices. For the sixth straight year, according to an annual Spok, Inc. survey, smartphones are the most popular device, with 77 percent of respondents saying their organization supports them, while other tools, including pagers, maintain strong representation.

The Spok survey found that smartphone use has continually increased, and wide-area pagers are gradually declining, but are still used by 50 percent of respondents. And then there are the other devices that show a mixed trajectory. “Clearly there is no standard device and hospitals are still figuring out what is most appropriate for different members of their staff given hospital resources, functional requirements, and staff expectations. For this reason, it remains critical that health systems implement communication solutions that are device neutral,” the Spok survey report authors wrote.

“Again this year, the survey shows that pagers play a major role in hospital communications,” Vince Kelly, chief executive officer of Spok Holdings, Inc, said.

The findings were part of Springfield, Va.-based Spok’s two-part survey report on mobility strategies in healthcare. This research, conducted by the healthcare communications company Spok, since 2011, is designed to assess mobile workflow enablement progress and trends in hospitals across the country. More than 300 healthcare professionals throughout the U.S. responded to this year’s questions about mobile strategy development, bring your own device (BYOD) policies, communications infrastructure, and opportunities to improve mobile communications.

“The first installment of our 2017 research, released last month, examined how hospitals are developing, maintaining, and executing on their mobile strategies,” Hemant Goel, president of Spok, said in a statement. “This second piece in our two-part series looks at the details behind these strategies. For example, we asked about the types of mobile devices particular staff carry, what challenges hospitals are encountering with mobile device usage, and whether they support BYOD programs.”

As reported by Healthcare Informatics, the first of two reports on the results of the annual mobility strategies in healthcare survey found that, compared to 2012, twice as many healthcare professional respondents said they have a documented mobile strategy within their organization.

The second piece of the two-part report, titled The State of Mobile Communications in Healthcare: Devices, Infrastructure, and Access, presents details around mobile device types and communication infrastructure.

When looking at the types of medical devices that hospital staff use, respondents ranked voice badges the lowest for reliability and ranked smartphones and pagers as most reliable. As cited above, while 77 percent of respondent use smartphones, they also use other tools, such as pagers. Twenty-one percent of surveyed healthcare professionals said their organization uses encrypted pagers.

The survey findings also revealed that preferred mobile devices depend on the user, and smartphones are not the preferred device for all staff. The survey specifically asked respondents about the primary devices used by non-clinical staff. In-house pagers dominate as the device of choice for these roles (48 percent), smartphones rank second (40 percent), and Wi-Fi phones came in third (30 percent), according to the survey results.

According to respondents, 59 percent of hospitals allow some form of bring-your-own-device (BYOD), while 4 percent said their organization is planning for BYOD. Nineteen percent of respondents said their hospitals do not allow BYOD, and 18 percent responded “don’t know.” The survey revealed that 90 percent of physicians at bring-your-own-device supporting hospitals participate in the BYOD programs.

The study also found that the number of hospitals that use enterprise mobility management solutions has grown by 6 percentage points since 2016.

The research this year reveals that hospitals are making progress in addressing the previously identified infrastructure gaps in order to better support mobile strategies and devices. Forty-five percent of respondents answered that Wi-Fi coverage is a challenge for mobile device users, and 38 percent cited cellular coverage as problematic, Goel said, however, both of these data points showed a 9 percentage point improvement over 2016.

In addition, data security as a mobile device challenge dropped from 43 percent to 31 percent. “Though there is still a lot of room for improvement, the responses this year demonstrate that hospitals are taking action and making progress addressing these important issues,” Goel stated.

The report also assessed the backup communication plans hospitals have in place should cellular networks become overloaded or fail, and the perceived reliability of different communication channels.

Survey participants were also asked to identify the biggest opportunity for mobile communication improvements over the next three to five years. Answers included enhancing patient care team collaboration, and using mobile strategies to simplify technology and bring uniformity across hospital systems

 

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LabCorp Joins Apple Health Records Project

November 5, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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LabCorp, a provider of clinical laboratory and end-to-end drug development services, has announced that it has enabled Apple’s Health Records feature for its patients.

This iPhone feature aims to make it easier for LabCorp patients to access their LabCorp laboratory test results, along with other available medical data from multiple providers, whenever they choose, according to officials.

In January, Apple announced that it would be testing the Health Records feature out with 12 hospitals, inclusive of some of the most prominent healthcare institutions in the U.S. Since that time, more than 100 new organizations have joined the project,  according to Apple.

LabCorp test results are viewable in the Apple Health app for LabCorp patients who have an account with the company, and enable integration with the Health Records app. In addition to their LabCorp test results, patients will have information from participating healthcare institutions organized into one view, covering allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.

Patients will receive notifications when their data is updated, and the Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, according to officials.

“LabCorp on Health Records will help provide healthcare consumers with a more holistic view of their health. Laboratory test results are central to medical decision making, and broadening access to this information will help patients take charge of their health and wellness, and lead to more informed dialogues between patients and their healthcare providers,” David P. King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, said in a statement.

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HIMSS Analytics Introduces Infrastructure Adoption Model for Health Systems

October 25, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, announced the introduction of the Infrastructure Adoption Model, or INFRAM, which is designed to measure the technical infrastructure used within a health system.

The INFRAM focuses on five technical subdomains, allowing organizations to benchmark how their infrastructure operates within the following areas: mobility; security; collaboration; transport; and data center.

Similar to HIMSS Analytics’ well-known Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, or, EMRAM, the INFRAM is an eight-stage model (0 – 7) that allows healthcare IT leaders to map the technology infrastructure capabilities required to reach their facility’s clinical and operational goals, while meeting industry benchmarks and standards.  The final stage, Stage 7, guides organizations towards optimized information integration, contextualization and orchestration essential for the delivery of higher order local and virtualized care processes.

For reference purposes, Stage 0 on the model represents that an organization does not have a VPN, intrusion detection/prevention, security policy, data center or compute architecture. Stage 3 signifies that an organization has an advanced intrusion prevention system, while Stage 5 represents having video on mobile devices, location-based messaging, firewall with advanced malware protection, and real-time scanning of email hyperlinks.

HIMSS officials note that by identifying specific benchmarks for organizations to reach before they go live with EMR, systems, the INFRAM aims to ensure that a health system’s infrastructure is stable, manageable and extensible. Through this, organizations can ideally improve care delivery and create a pathway for infrastructure development tied to business and clinical outcomes.

 “The INFRAM is a welcome addition to our maturity model suite and addresses a longstanding need – guiding healthcare organizations in securely implementing the infrastructure with which their EMRs are built upon,” Blain Newton, executive vice president, HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “We have seen health systems engage with advanced clinical applications, only for them to ‘glitch’ under infrastructure that isn't powerful enough to support their tools. With the INFRAM, healthcare providers can develop a detailed, strategic technology plan that defines their organization's current state, desired future state, and each stage in between to achieve their clinical and operational goals.”

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Clinical Team Communication and Data Access in the Palm of Your Hand

Thursday, October 25, 2018 | 1:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. CT

Eisenhower Health, a west coast-based Magnet Hospital, implemented an enterprise-wide solution enabling mobile communications and collaboration across all care teams, linking the entire enterprise, advancing its communications capabilities, creating access to an enterprise directory, and improving care team response and turnaround times.

Additionally, the system provided extensive and comprehensive reporting with data analytics showing where and to what extent response improvements were made, but also providing the information the hospital needed to better utilize the system and make adjustments to improve results.

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