- Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s culture, but many healthcare organizations are still figuring out how to leverage them to support providers and patient outcomes, a new KLAS Research report concludes.
- Shared-use smartphones that are under an organization’s control can build out the clinician tool kit and increase efficiencies by enabling mobile access to patient data. Other options include personal use phones, usually reserved for physicians and management, and “bring your own device" (BYOD) programs that allow employees to access and share personal health information.
- Meanwhile, nearly 76% of practices use mobile health on a weekly basis, but half of those use it five hours or less, according to the Physicians Practice 2018 Mobile Health Survey. More than 22% of practices use mHealth six to 10 hours a week, while just 27% use it more than 10 hours.
The Apple iPhone’s ease of use and broad application library have made it the go-to choice for shared-use phones, but weaknesses could cause other companies to gain ground, according to the KLAS report. Drawbacks include cost, poor Wi-Fi connectivity, no built-in barcode scanner and inability to switch batteries between different iOS models. The iPhone also lacks ruggedization — a feature required for it to be considered healthcare grade.
By contrast, Zebra (previously Motorola) offers a healthcare grade smartphone, is more durable and has an integrated scanner, the report notes. “Two EHR and secure communications vendors now favor Zebra over Apple due to Apple’s inadequacies.”
Organizations issuing personal-use devices almost exclusively use Apple, while half also offer Samsung primarily as a secondary device. The primary use of these phones is communicating with the care team and accessing EHRs. But again, some of the same limitations — like poor WiFi connectivity — apply. While Apple is seen as more secure, Samsung wins on flexibility.
Unless organizations ban personal smartphones, KLAS recommends having a corporate BYOD program to keep the phones HIPAA-compliant when employees access patient data. Successful programs should include stipends to support usage of approved personal phones, an approved secure messaging app, remote device security and lockdown and means to access EHRs.
Asked their motivation for purchasing smartphones, 87% of organizations said securing messaging, while 60% cited EHR mobility.
The Physicians Practice survey shows practices using mHealth for a variety of purposes, with the chief one being communicating with staff (70%). The next most common usage is mobile EHR application (51%), followed by communication with providers (50%) and education on clinical issues (47%).
The National Institute for Standards and Technology developed a practice guide on mobile device security that describes enterprise mobility management, in which a profile is installed on a device to enable monitoring and control. The problem, according to critics, is that staff in organizations that permit BYOD don’t want their personal devices monitored.