Making Medical Workers Mobile (And The Patients It Serves)
By Perry Price, Revation Systems
The healthcare industry has undergone immense change over the last decade. From the introduction of healthcare analytics to the widespread implementation of electronic medical records (EMR)/electronic health records (EHR) across the U.S. to even the replacement of legacy phone systems with unified communications technology, the systems that make up today’s healthcare organizations function and look quite differently than 10 or 20 years ago. The common thread among all of this change is technology and the widespread adoption of the “anywhere, anytime” mindset for communication.
As each year goes by, the healthcare landscape rapidly becomes more mobile and advancements in tech have resulted in the creation of a new sector of the medical workforce – one that is mobile. And as technology has enhanced communications in the industry, it has enabled medical staff to complete the necessary functions of the job while out of the four walls of a healthcare facility on case visits.
The Role Of Mobile Applications
Case workers that spend much of their workday away from their desk performing on-site case visits have developed a significant need for a mobile solution that enables them to communicate both with fellow employees and document patient data after visits. From the need to access a medical record on a smartphone or the need to securely track patient correspondence before and after a home visit, today’s mobile medical workers face unique communication challenges that conventional doctors or nurses typically do not have to worry about.
Mobile applications are playing a large role in improving care outcomes and efficiency on the road when the technology is uniquely designed for this type of workflow, which requires a high level of usability as well as security. The mobile workforce is only continuing to grow and advancements in digital technology are helping to improve the quality of mobile care.
The Logistics Of A Mobile Workforce
As digital transformation’s influence continues to ripple across the healthcare industry, the virtualization of care will be the solution to simplifying the delivery of care and patient experiences. As the nature of medical professionals’ work becomes more mobile, healthcare organizations and hospital systems are developing a significant need to manage the logistics of this new mobile workforce. Mobile healthcare professionals that are traveling between multiple different sites throughout a single workday have the need for a secure system in which they can complete many functions.
For example, consider the scenario of a medical case worker who spends almost the entirety of their workday visiting with patients in their homes. This type of employee has the need to track their travel for the purpose of reporting it back to the healthcare organization. A secure application that can offer capabilities like mileage reporting, travel time, scheduled breaks and even GPS integration has quickly become a necessity for medical organizations supporting a mobile workforce.
While the logistics of managing a multitude of mobile professionals may appear daunting to the healthcare industry, much can be learned gleaned from the observation of cross-industry habits. Take for example, the shipping industry. This industry has the ability to swiftly manage a fleet of resources that is dynamically transitioning from one customer site to another. This is one lesson that healthcare can translate to its mobile workforce. However, a significant challenge that the healthcare industry faces in getting the kinks out of their logistics process for the mobile workforce are the current compliance issues with data security that make it absolutely necessary for communications to retain the utmost level of security.
Communication Is Key
Nurses and doctors that spend the majority of their work week on the road need to communicate with other staff, as well as patients, via their smartphone or other mobile device. Mobile medical professionals are constantly working on visit preparation and follow-up work – and most of it is done away from their desk at the clinic or hospital. In addition to prep and follow-up work, mobile workers rely heavily on their smartphones for relationship management, making secure communications a key function of their daily responsibilities. Although there is a strong need for a mobile application to help solve logistical issues that occur with a mobile medical workforce, the need to secure the communications of those employees is urgent.
Think back to the example of the medical case worker that travels daily within a certain radius visiting up to six or seven patients a day. A significant part of that case worker’s job is the follow-up work that happens after patient visits are completed as the details of the visit require extensive documentation. This type of follow-up work requires secure, HIPAA-compliant access to data and other features such as scheduling and charting.
As telehealth deployments continue to increase, mobile medical staff will become commonplace. Telehealth technology is becoming more ingrained in the day-to-day operations of healthcare organizations across the nation and patient preference for convenience, flexible communications in healthcare are rising. The new technologies that are being introduced to the healthcare industry year by year are also reshaping the reach and quality of care. As a result, properly equipping mobile medical staff with secure mobile applications for their communications will become increasingly imperative moving forward.
About The Author
Perry Price is CEO/president of Revation Systems. In this role, Price builds and grows the customer base, recruits qualified talent, and streamlines internal operations. Price utilizes his deep domain expertise in IP networking and communication applications, including telephony, unified communications, call-center technologies, and messaging.