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This post is from the Apperian blog and has not been updated since the original publish date.

Last Updated Nov 06, 2013 — App Management expert

Gaining Competitive Advantage in Patient Care with Enterprise Apps

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Healthcare is a hot topic these days, especially with the major changes of ObamaCare coming into effect. No one knows how these changes will affect the quality of service, but it is certain that many eyes will be scrutinizing both the cost and quality of healthcare services in the near future. This creates a great opportunity for technology solutions that can make the provision of patient care more efficient and effective. Mobile technology has the ability to do just this with enterprise apps, and the industry has noticed. In fact, the total market for mHealth is expected to reach $26 billion by 2017.

Historically, the healthcare industry has been slow to catch on to technology and often still manages patient information at the point of care the old-fashioned way: with a pen and a paper chart -- or at best, a COW (Computer on Wheels). Not exactly convenient when compared to an iPad Mini, which fits nicely in a lab coat pocket. In addition, many of the existing medical patient care software tools have been built with legacy code and run on old operating systems, resulting in high training and maintenance costs for the healthcare organization.

Why mobilize? Physicians and other caregivers’ time is valuable, especially in a hectic hospital environment. With more efficient operations, patient throughput and revenue increases, and a higher quality experience can be provided to the patient. Having all the information for a patient easily available to all the relevant caregivers at the point of care reduces risk of error and encourages collaborative decision-making, while minimizing patient frustration with multiple people asking similar questions. We are beginning to see enterprise apps that achieve this goal. For example, Mount Sinai Medical Hospital in New York has recently launched a workflow and communication application for its clinicians that does just this. Another use case of mobile point of care enterprise apps is in surgery, where doctors need to access significant amounts of data both before and during a procedure.

There are apps that can help surgeons review reference material before and during a surgery, monitor vital signs and guide the actions of the surgeon through real-time imagery while the procedure is ongoing. In fact, a surgeon in Germany recently used an augmented reality iPad app to help guide him in completing an operation on a patient’s liver. Despite the benefits, there are many challenges with implementing an enterprise mobility solution in a healthcare environment such as a hospital. Aside from the issue of IT support and linking to legacy applications, the biggest risk is that of security. HIPPA (Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act) is a BIG deal and a BIG risk, particularly if caregivers are using their own devices for care. According to CDW Healthcare, an IT infrastructure provider for healthcare organizations, 81% of healthcare organizations store personal health data on mobile devices, however only 50% of them have taken measures to secure it. If iPads are shared across different shifts or caregivers, role-based access becomes important.

Would you want the person drawing your blood to be able to edit your diagnosis? However, these challenges can be properly managed by deploying tools which effectively secure the data on the device. With a mobile application management (MAM™) approach to secure enterprise app deployment, encryption and authentication can be done at the app level, and a MAM™ solution can integrate with the enterprise’s existing systems to ensure role-based access is applied so that caregivers only have read or write access relevant to their job function.

In addition, security techniques like Data in Action protection help prevent data from leaking to other parts of the phone, which prevents patient information from accidentally getting into people’s personal apps. With more than 25% of physicians already using iPads to provide patient care and 71% of nurses already using smartphones at work, the users are ready and willing, they just need their employers to give them the right enterprise apps.

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