Once doctors and nurses clock in for their shifts, they don’t stop until they clock back out. At least, they shouldn’t have to stop. They should be able to move from one patient to the next seamlessly without having to run back to the nurses’ station for any reason other than to rest, especially given the high utilization rate of mobile computing technologies in clinical settings these days.
With the right mobility solution, clinicians can:
- Consult and coordinate care actions with widely dispersed care team members via voice, text or email while on the move.
- Securely retrieve or update electronic health records (EHR) in real time from literally anywhere.
- Order diagnostic tests or treatments from the point of care and then, when needed, verify patients’ identities before administering medication or printing up specimen labels.
And these are just three of the many different ways that mobile devices can improve care team communications, protect sensitive data and maintain patient privacy. (You can read about the rest here.) To be honest, I don’t think anyone in healthcare would argue that there’s a downside to widespread mobile device use among hospital, clinic, laboratory or pharmacy staff. There are just too many benefits.
That being said, it has come to Zebra’s attention recently that increased mobile device utilization has, in fact, interrupted some workflows in clinical settings around the world. After further investigation and several conversations with clinicians, we realized that there are three main reasons why some mobility solutions are either unnecessarily slowing them down or introducing unnecessary risk in patient care processes:
- Non-rugged smartphones and tablets not designed for use in healthcare are having trouble syncing with back-end systems or tolerating frequent wipe downs per healthcare disinfection protocols.
- Care team members are having to constantly stop what they’re doing to log (back) into their mobile devices in order to access the apps and tools needed to verify patient identify, review records, document vitals, submit orders for diagnostic testing or treatment or print specimen labels. In some instances, they have to sign into each workflow app separately using a unique (likely overly simple or overly complex) password, which is especially burdensome when they’re working against the clock to care for critical patients.
- Staff members are forgetting to log off from their mobile devices – or more specifically, log out of their personalized device profiles – before handing them off to another clinician, which poses both patient and staff privacy issues as well as an accountability nightmare. It also hinders clinicians’ ability to reach the right doctor or nurse urgently or access the right patient record.
If you hand me a clinical smartphone during shift change that’s still logged into your unique digital identity/device profile, and I didn’t notice because I got busy right away, then when I go to swipe or scan my ID badge to unlock the screen, I’m essentially accessing the device and all synced business systems as you. If I make a mistake updating a patient’s EHR, it will look like it was your mistake since I was logged in as you. Plus, it is unlikely that my colleagues will be able to reach me when needed since I’m still technically logged into your email and receiving calls made to your personal phone number…not mine.
Fortunately, each of these issues can easily be mitigated!
The first one can be avoided by equipping all care team members with rugged, enterprise-grade clinical smartphones, which is something that should be happening in all hospitals around the world for the many reasons that my colleague Chris Sullivan detailed in this recent blog post. The other two issues can instantly be resolved by empowering clinicians to use single sign-on (SSO) to retrieve their unique profiles, or digital identities, on shared mobile devices.
Seem too good to be true?
Trust me, it’s not. Zebra has actually been working with partner Imprivata to integrate its well-known Imprivata Mobile SSO technology into our Workforce Connect solution this year. And early deployments within hospitals have been quite impactful on care team efficiency as well as data security, patient privacy and overall safety.
Breaking Down the Singular Impact of SSO Access to Workforce Connect within Busy Hospitals and Clinics
Anyone who has ever used an SSO tool to access a work computer or mobile device can appreciate the ease and convenience of logging in one time – using one password, badge swipe or scan – to access every application, file and tool needed to get a job done. SSO technology is celebrated for its ability to boost productivity among users, particularly within the healthcare community. Doctors and nurses can’t afford to waste even a few seconds trying to remember and type in a password every time they need to get into their mobile device to make a call, access an EHR, submit a lab order, print a specimen label or verify a patient’s identity.
However, Zebra and Imprivata both understand that SSO does far more than just simplify device and application access. If properly integrated into the device’s profile manager (i.e. Workforce Connect), SSO can help unlock many additional benefits that enable healthcare providers to extract an even greater return on investment (ROI) from their clinical mobility solutions.