By Ryan Webber
As technology advances, the healthcare system in the U.S. has relied more heavily on mobile devices to support the delivery of critical patient care. Emerging in parallel to the latest medical innovations, mobile devices have improved in their ability to collect and update patient data for the purpose of delivering personalized medicine and precision care.
Mobile technology is proving to be a critical tool for medical professionals and patients to keep track of their health, manage healthcare data, monitor prescriptions, access test results and more, in a secure and user-friendly way.
For healthcare professionals in the U.S. to continue meeting patient needs, the implementation of mobile technology is essential to provide the calm reassurance that patients need in order to feel listened to and cared for. Here are how healthcare professionals can utilize mobile technology to meet patient expectations and the pressing need for responsive and adaptable healthcare:
Mobile-ready healthcare providers positioned to deliver quality service
Digital transformation brings access to more data, but this information is only as useful as what you do with it. In healthcare environments, there are countless time-consuming demands that are placed on workers. From admitting patients, to managing prescriptions and health records, there are many tasks that put a strain on a healthcare professional’s ability to work efficiently and provide a high level of care.
There are numerous advantages for implementing mobile technology to improve and streamline workflows for the examples above. Providing staff with the latest mobile technology enables them to monitor, document and communicate with ease and simplicity, delivering accurate and timelier patient care.
However, the industry still needs to catch up. According to a global study by SAP/Oxford Economics, while healthcare organizations realize the value of digitization for patient satisfaction and innovation (54% of the organizations are piloting digital transformation initiatives), less than 3% have completed digital transformation efforts across their organization. In the study, the biggest obstacle cited by healthcare executives is the lack of mature technology.
Healthcare data is at risk
While the benefits of adopting mobile technologies that enable workers to create efficiencies and support enhanced levels of patient care provide tangible benefits in the healthcare sector, the growth in the number of devices handling private patient information presents real security risks. A business-critical mobility solution that integrates all healthcare digital platforms and devices ensures that the entire system is running reliably and is secure. With the ability to be managed remotely, today’s advanced mobility solutions can lockdown missing or compromised devices and can create specific user personas, with different levels of security access. This means that the same mobile device can be used by different employees, on different shifts, giving them access to only the level of information they need for their role, without creating any unnecessary security risks.
The IoT is also redefining today’s healthcare sector, with billions of new devices and endpoints and a range of features, standards and protocols already in place. Some of the commonly used devices are simple, like touchless or smart thermometers, and their security risks are low. However, challenges arise when connected devices are adopted in any industry on a mass scale.
These risks are further magnified in healthcare environments where technology can pose the risk of exposing confidential patient data. Picture a hundred of these smart thermometers in an average hospital, all connected to the network in order to communicate temperature readings to a centralized patient record. If these devices are improperly managed and left unsecure, that leaves a hundred open endpoints that can be exploited in a cyberattack.
Moreover, according to HIPAA Journal, between 2009 and 2019 there have been 3,054 healthcare data breaches involving more than 500 records that resulted in the loss, theft, exposure or impermissible disclosure of more than 230 million healthcare records. This is a wake-up call to healthcare systems to arm their IT infrastructure to prepare for security incidents that may occur during a global pandemic like COVID-19. A recent report from SOTI, Racing Towards the Future of Enterprise Mobility, revealed that mobile security is a top concern for patients, with 40% being very concerned about the potential for data breaches, and 43% somewhat concerned. Any growth in cyberattacks directed at the healthcare sector puts both the health and private information of many patients at risk.
According to a report by IDC, by 2020 it’s estimated that 25% of all healthcare data will be collected by patients themselves. Interestingly, a recentSOTI consumer survey about physician mobile apps found nearly 80% of patients believe the onus should be on physicians for ensuring their confidential data is protected. The same survey also revealed that only 35% of IT administrators in the healthcare industry manage imaging, medical or scientific technology. However, we know mobile technology is found in every corner of the industry, so it is imperative a connected business-critical mobile strategy is in place well before those devices are deployed in a healthcare environment. Any increase in cyberattacks aimed at the healthcare sector can impact the confidentiality of patients, and indirectly result in negative health outcomes if critical patient data is lost or compromised in the process.
Secure mobile technology charts the path for modern healthcare services
Mobile technology enables more seamless communication, information sharing and streamlining of administrative tasks to benefit both physicians and their patients. According to the SOTI survey, 75% of U.S. patients said that physicians who integrate mobile technology provide a faster and more convenient experience.
Healthcare professionals who implement mobile technology are perceived as agile, resourceful and well-equipped to knowledgeably serve patients, especially in times of crisis. A mobile strategy in healthcare can help medical professionals communicate with patients when in-person visits are not feasible, monitor prescriptions, share test results and provide other helpful and convenient services to patients around the clock.
The healthcare sector continues to adapt to improve the patient experience in the U.S. However, the growth in the number of mobile devices used in healthcare does not come without its own privacy risks. As healthcare providers become more reliant on digital systems and have access to more sophisticated data, they must remain diligent and ensure security and availability of information, in order to improve and protect the quality of healthcare nationwide.
Ryan Webber is Senior VP of Enterprise Mobility at SOTI.