News Feature | October 24, 2016

Report Finds Healthcare Ecosystem At A Critical Juncture

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

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How mobile solutions are transforming the traditional paradigm of healthcare.

It’s no secret technology has become a crucial element in the transformation of today’s healthcare system. The healthcare ecosystem has reached a critical juncture where organizations are beginning to heavily invest in the next generation of mobility solutions. And while earlier clinical assistants were met with mixed success, today’s hardware technology has advanced to a point where smart devices are delivering higher levels of efficiency.

A report from VDC Research, Mobilizing Health Care: From Providers to Patients, examines just how mobile solutions are transforming the traditional healthcare paradigm. Mobile software and professional services comprise $4.0 billion ($2.7 billion from software and $1.3 billion from services), and healthcare organizations are now being driven to commit to the next generation of mobile technologies. Healthcare modernization is currently focused on providing convergence at a system level, updating legacy systems to support the increased systemic demands of new hardware and software applications.

In 2015, the healthcare vertical invested nearly $7.2 billion between hardware, software, and services, and VDC projects mobile hardware investments will rise from $3.2 billion in 2015 to more than $3.5 billion over the next five years.

VDC researchers write, “With patient satisfaction and engagement rates as main drivers, growth for both rugged and consumer grade devices used for line of business applications in the healthcare vertical is projected to continue through 2020.”

According to VDC, 7.5 million consumer-grade devices and 242,000 rugged devices were shipped into healthcare line of business (LoB) applications in 2015, leading VDC to predict growth in both rugged and consumer-grade devices through 2020. This growth will be driven by smartphone deployments for consumer-grade devices and by a combination of wearables, handhelds, and tablets for rugged devices.

This growth also comes as demand for the notebook and computers on wheels decreases. Nurses and physicians will see increased tablet and handheld/smartphone deployments that can boost workflow efficiency, working as a catalyst point for integrating legacy technology and functionality with new mobile applications.

“We are seeing a growing number of health care organizations developing a wide range of interactive applications for their patients” says Cameron Roche, Analyst in the Enterprise Mobility and Connected Device practice. “More than 70 percent of healthcare services providers indicate that their current or planned applications will allow patients to make appointments, access lab results, contact their health care provider, monitor for medication compliance, and reference important educational information about diseases and medications.”

Among the study’s other findings:

  • Accessories remain an important component in increasing enterprise appeal of consumer-grade devices. The most popular accessory for the second year in a row is protective cases, but with the rise in popularity of 2-1 devices, the corresponding stylus will also become more desirable.
  • Security and privacy remain chief requirements for healthcare solutions, driven by strict HIPAA requirements and the rise of cyber attacks on hospitals. VDC’s health survey found that 28 percent of healthcare organizations saw app security as a chief barrier to mobile solutions deployment, while 23 percent cited regulatory concerns, and 38 percent say privacy concerns top the list.

VDC projects that locationing, workflow, secure messaging, and business intelligence applications will become more popular to increase access to real-time data and allow nurses and other healthcare agents to spend more time engaging with patients and to increase efficiency and accountability.