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Study: Hospitals Making Significant Investments in Smartphone-Based Communications

May 20, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Sixty-three percent of hospitals and health systems have deployed or plan to deploy a mobile communications platform supporting more than 500 smartphones in the next year, according to a new survey from Spyglass Consulting Group.

The healthcare study by Spyglass examined the market opportunities and challenges for hospital IT to widely deploy a smartphone-based communications platform to support patient care teams and other mobile hospital workers across the enterprise. Spyglass interviewed about 20 leading hospitals and medical centers nationwide who had successfully deployed a large number of smartphones to support mission and patient-critical communications.

The survey found that the average size deployment included 1,100 smartphones while the largest deployment included more than 5,000 smartphones. And, the survey also found that 44 percent of organizations surveyed had developed comprehensive mobile communications strategies to address the current and future communications and collaboration requirements of nurses, care team members and other mobile hospital workers.

These organizations were carefully selecting their hardware, software, and services partners based upon their track records for successfully installing large‐scale smartphone‐based systems within hospitals and their willingness to collaborate to develop next generation close loop communications systems, according to the study.

Greg Malkary, founder and managing director of the Spyglass Consulting Group, said based on a study two years ago, healthcare organizations’ initial deployments of smartphones were often limited to support clinical messaging between nurses and their support staff within targeted medical departments. With this more recent study it’s clear that leading healthcare organizations are “going long” and deploying smartphone-based communications platforms across the health system and across all patient care areas, as well as integrating with hospital systems to support closed loop communications, he said.

“Many organizations quickly expand the scope and usage models to include all hospital workers and workflows across medical departments, standalone hospitals, and ambulatory environments and clinics,” Malkary said.

According to the survey report, provider organizations are developing comprehensive mobile communications strategies, and expanding the usage of their communications platforms beyond clinical messaging to support other hospital workers and workflows across medical departments, standalone hospitals, ambulatory environments, and integrated delivery networks.

Across the healthcare environment, mobile devices such as smartphones are replacing fixed location computers, pagers and landline phones as the preferred platform for securely accessing patient data and communicating with team members from any location and at any time. According to Malkary, smartphones integrated with the hospital’s communications system enables nurses and other hospital workers to use voice, text messaging, alarm and alerts, and mobile apps to communicate the right patient data, at the right time, to the right team member and in the right format to improve team-based collaboration regardless of their physical location.

“With the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the transition toward patient-centered care models and value-based purchasing, hospital IT has an imperative to evaluate and make investments in smartphones and mobile healthcare communications solutions. These solutions must address the needs of clinicians and other hospital workers requiring real-time communications and collaboration tools to support team-based care within the hospital and across the community,” Malkary wrote in the study.

The report also identified four critical success factors for hospital IT to consider when widely deploying a Smartphone‐based communications platform.

Scalability – Deploying a highly reliable, manageable, and scalable platform to support mission‐, patient‐ and life‐critical communications.

Interoperability – Integrating with hospital IT systems infrastructure including the hospital’s PBX, clinical information systems, biomedical devices, and nurse call system to support data driven closed‐loop communications.

Multi‐device support – Providing support for hospital‐owned Smartphones, personally‐owned Smartphones (BYOD), and a desktop computer interface for enhancing and expanding care team collaboration within the hospital and across the community.

Hospital leadership – Driving widespread end user adoption through hospital administration leadership, commitment and investment.

Looking ahead, Malkary said the trend lines point to more massive deployments of smartphone technology platforms that are tightly integrated into the hospital system, which helps to unlock the value across the organization and provide a higher level of care.


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