How to Optimize Your Mobile Strategy for the Next Generation of Healthcare

There are many ways mobile technologies can be used to elevate patient care and empower clinicians. But a unified endpoint management (UEM) strategy is key for scale.

A doctor uses a clinical smartphone to pull up a patient`s records bedside.
by Your Edge Contributor
July 27, 2021

This post was written by Phoebe He, Product Marketing Manager at VMware, a Zebra Independent Software Vendor (ISV).

Research shows organizations have achieved years of digital transformation at a record-breaking speed, often in months, due to the urgency to deliver services in a digital-first manner. Healthcare, one of the largest and most complex sectors, is no exception.

Global healthcare organizations have been under extreme pressure in recent years to support an aging population and keep up with increasing patient demand amid staff shortages. The pandemic pushed them over the technology tipping point, as they were suddenly forced to maintain existing operations while accommodating spiking demand for new models of care in the most diverse circumstances, including pop-up clinics, rural locations, remote care, and in patients’ homes. As the transition to remote care and patient empowerment continues to accelerate and evolve, more clinicians, administrators, patients, and families will experience the benefits of these digitally enabled capabilities, thus driving greater adoption. And with doctors and nurses more mobile than ever, we expect the use of handheld devices to grow as their role in improving outcomes is widely recognized.

The New Definition of Clinical Mobility

According to The Future of Healthcare: 2022 Hospital Vision Study commissioned by Zebra, nurses across all disciplines – bedside, emergency room, operating room, and intensive care – as well as physicians, pharmacists, and lab technicians will increasingly use mobile technology by 2022. In many cases, it is becoming an indispensable tool. Doctors and nurses now depend on smartphone-like clinical mobile computers to provide always-on care from anywhere.  

As a result, the clinical mobility strategy is now in the spotlight as healthcare facilities work to improve physician efficiency and the patient experience.

Yet, as valuable as these devices may be, they can only be effective if they empower clinicians to seamlessly move across locations, connect to all necessarily healthcare information systems, and maintain workflow continuity between different shared or bedside devices without any downtime. There cannot be any concerns about performance, security, reliability, availability, or other issues that would prevent users from fully leveraging the technology, especially in situations where lives can be at stake. That’s why healthcare providers must now focus on ensuring that any mobility solution given to care team members is intuitive and easy to use for the highly specialized tasks found in hospitals and beyond.

Challenges in Executing the Mobile Strategy

In the journey to deliver a top-notch digital experience in the current dynamic environment amid growing patient demand, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are facing these top challenges:

  1. Complexity in device management: IT departments struggle to keep up with the demand surge for handheld mobile devices to support roaming and remote clinicians. IT needs to stage, manage, and retire deployed devices throughout the device lifecycle. Security patches and irregular malware risks add another layer of complexity when ensuring every device in the fleet is in pristine condition. Typically, it takes up to four weeks to provision and deploy a new device fleet to the medical field, which is no longer fast enough.
  2. Inconsistency in clinician experience: With the proliferation of digital solutions out there, it's hard for IT to streamline the workflows spanning multiple operating systems, device form factors, and networks. Clinicians are experiencing inconsistencies while switching between these systems and devices, which often causes service disruption, poor patient experience, and low care outcomes.
  3. Lack of visibility and resolution: IT struggles to keep track of the health of clinical smartphone devices once deployed, as there can be thousands in use at any time. The inability to predict battery failure and device and app issues leads to further productivity loss and the risk of disruption in life-threatening situations.

What to Look for in a Mobility Solution

There are several mobile devices and software platforms marketed for use in healthcare environments, but not all are purpose built for the unique needs of the healthcare community. Be sure you build a solution that…

empowers healthcare IT. Being able to scale its digital and mobile strategy is top of mind for every healthcare organization’s IT department. Currently, 36% of hospitals are using mobile devices. That number is expected to double by 2022, dramatically increasing the number of devices IT needs to manage. The endpoint management solution you select must enable mass enrollment, configuration, and lifecycle management for thousands of mission-critical devices. The ideal endpoint management solution will allow low-touch enrollment and configuration. This empowers IT to mass enroll and configure mobile devices over the air, then directly ship them to different hospital locations. The end point management solution should also configure these devices for different functionalities as needed, whether they are shared devices, kiosks, or dedicated devices that belong to one user. This, in turn, ensures the devices are ready to serve different functions once received by the hospital.

Besides enrollment and configuration, make sure IT can use the same endpoint management solution to also stage, manage, and support each device throughout its lifecycle. So, look for a single platform that can streamline all device management tasks and reduce management complexity.

makes clinicians happy. Hospitals that are outfitting key personnel with mobile devices are quickly realizing increased productivity. And with 97% of nurses expected to rely on mobile devices at the bedside to perform critical clinical tasks by 2022, it’s important to give them a clinical mobile solution that is easy to learn and use. Frictionless adoption is the key to realizing maximum value.

For example, look for a mobility solution that enables nurses to quickly check out shared devices at the beginning of their shifts and, within seconds, go from login to productivity via Single Sign On (SSO). A branded, task-based user interface that minimizes confusion and distraction every time they log in helps them kick start their day with just the apps and patient information they need at their fingertips. When nurses return the devices to the charging stations at the end of the day, properly-configured devices will automatically return to factory settings – with all patient data wiped clean – so they are ready to be used by the next care team member who picks them up. This type of solution keeps patient and user data private between sessions while ensuring a seamless user experience every shift. And if a device is assigned to a room versus a specific user, both user and patient privacy can be maintained as it is handed from one nurse to the next during the shift. SSO will facilitate a fast, secure user profile transition.

It’s also important to select a mobile device that’s built to last and offers prolonged battery life as these features enable nurses and physicians to focus on patient care rather than worrying about running out of battery or damaging the device in an urgent situation. It’s best to choose handheld devices that can also be speech enabled and equipped with barcode scanning capabilities, making the multitasked life of the nurses and physicians so much easier.

- harnesses the power of data. The healthcare IT department is expected to ensure zero downtime across different device form factors and operating systems, and that makes its job especially stressful. Luckily, having visibility into its massive device fleet and collecting intelligence about the performance and utilization levels of hundreds or thousands of clinicians’ devices throughout the workday is no longer impossible. Device and application data, such as check-in/check-out failure rate, app launch success rate, app data usage, and battery malfunction signals can help IT identify and resolve device and app issues before they impact end users. Plus, automatic analysis of device and app performance helps maximize clinicians’ productivity by proactively mitigating issues. For example, a service-down ticket can be automatically created when an app keeps crashing on a device. The IT team will get notified, and the issue can be fixed before the next user even picks up the device.

Furthermore, battery management functionality predicts battery failure and prevents device downtime. For instance, a user and an IT admin are informed when a battery needs to be charged or replaced before the device shuts down. Proactively managing the battery life can potentially prevent a life-threatening situation from happening because a device suddenly stops working and the clinician can’t retrieve patient records to inform care decisions or request help in emergencies.

Looking for A Clinical Mobility Solution?

Zebra mobile health (mHealth) devices and VMware Workspace ONE Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) together are a perfect solution for supporting mission-critical healthcare workflows while ensuring a great user experience.

VMware Workspace ONE Unified Endpoint Management solution enables healthcare organizations to quickly and easily stage, manage and support Zebra deployments—alongside existing mobile and laptop deployments. It allows low-touch mass enrollment of mission-critical Zebra devices before even being shipped. Workspace ONE Launcher enables shared device mode, customizes the home screen, and shows/hides apps based on the specific user that logged in. Workspace ONE’s multitenant mode also supports management of up to hundreds of thousands of devices simultaneously. To learn more, visit https://www.vmware.com/workspace-one.html.

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Looking for more guidance on how to design and deploy an effective clinical mobility solution? You may also be interested in these discussions:

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Your Edge Contributor
Zebra will occasionally publish insights from members of our partner community, our customers and other subject matter experts across the global industries we serve on the Your Edge blog. Background information about each individual author can be found at the bottom of their contributed blog post.
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