From The Editor | October 5, 2009

Mobility Gaining Popularity In Healthcare

The Potential Cost Of A Medical Device Tax

The adoption of mobile devices and applications is growing in several industries including manufacturing, public works, and transportation. However, no industry may be as active in deploying the technology over the next year as the healthcare. A recent study, titled the Motorola Enterprise Mobility Healthcare Barometer, authored by e-Rewards (an online research panel) and TNS (a global market information and insight group) and commissioned by Motorola, illustrates the rising interest in mobile technologies among the healthcare community. The study, which surveyed 3,400 IT decision makers in the healthcare industry, showed that more than 80% of respondents stated that mobile technologies are more important to their organizations today than they were in 2008. Respondents cited benefits such as increased order fulfillment accuracy, reduced manual errors, and increased employee productivity as key reasons for the increased interest in mobility. Similarly, respondents deemed applications such as EHRs (electronic health records), computerized physician order entry, and medication administration as key drivers for investment in mobile technologies.

The Motorola Enterprise Mobility Healthcare Barometer found that respondents' usage of key mobility applications attributed to a 31% reduction in manual errors. Medication mistakes are among the most common medical errors in the United States, harming at least 1.5 million people annually. Additionally, the extra medical costs associated with treating drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion each year.

PDAs, Smartphones Compelling Mobile Solutions For Physicians
A primary mobile application being adopted by physicians is the use of PDAs (personal digital assistants), smartphones, or handheld mobile computing devices at the point of care. Physicians are using these devices to make appointments, upload medication requirements, and receive lab results, bed change notifications, and critical alerts in near real-time. With several practice management and EHR software packages being PDA-compliant, some physicians are even leveraging the technology to access and update EHRs at the point of care. However, several concerns regarding the security of patient information still exist when accessing EHR data on handheld mobile devices. For example, most handheld devices still offer limited encryption and authentication capabilities and could pose a liability if the device fell into the wrong hands. Other mobile applications gaining increased interest among healthcare professionals according to the survey include VoWLAN (voice over wireless local area networks), fixed mobile convergence, and mobile data capture offerings.

While security risks remain a concern or some mobile deployments, the ROI rewards of the technology may compel even the most risk averse healthcare organization to take a closer look at these applications. For example, surveyed healthcare IT decision makers indicated ROI was the most commonly given justification for a mobile technology investment followed closely by compliance. In fact, the study revealed that mobile workers within a healthcare environment were able to recover 39 minutes per day, which contributed to improved patient care and reduced payroll costs. For an in-depth look at the Motorola mobile healthcare study click here.