As Doctors Embrace Tablets, Management Headaches Grow - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Healthcare // Mobile & Wireless
11:48 AM
Connect Directly

As Doctors Embrace Tablets, Management Headaches Grow

Mobile devices are just what the doctor ordered, but not all healthcare providers' IT departments have the right tools to manage them.

10 Waiting Room Apps That Engage Patients
10 Waiting Room Apps That Engage Patients
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Clinicians increasingly are taking tablets to their patient encounters, and that's translating into new opportunities and new headaches for IT professionals.

As healthcare providers use smartphones and tablets to improve patient engagement, enhance care, and boost efficiency, management and security challenges increase. But healthcare providers are paying more attention -- and spending more resources -- to address these issues, according to a recently released study by HIMSS Analytics. Of the 170 healthcare and IT professionals surveyed, 59% have a mobile technology in place, and another 29% are developing a plan to cope with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Because 83% of physicians use mobile technology to provide patient care, the study found, IT must manage and secure these devices.

"When I look at our clinicians, healthcare is a mobile workforce," said Mony Weschler, chief strategist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., during an interview at HIMSS14. "Clinicians don't sit at a desk and roll patients by them. Every second counts."

IT must balance users' desire for immediate, simple access to data along with government mandates, best-practices, and organizational requirements for securing data. Indeed, 95% of organizations use at least one security tool, generally passwords, to protect data. That suggests 5% are leaving valuable, private information unsecured and subject to HIPAA violations and breach of patient trust.

[Learn more about health IT security risks. See Healthcare Devices: Security Researchers Sound Alarms.]

Fletcher Allen Health Care's IT team must balance doctors' desire for fast, simple access to records with the technology team's requirement for security, said John McConnell, enterprise architect at the Burlington, Vt., medical center, during an interview at HIMSS14. The 560-bed hospital relies extensively on a VMware virtualized desktop environment, Dell thin clients, and iPads for its 7,000-plus users and 46,000-plus devices.

"Quite frankly, I don't think we have a physician at Fletcher Allen who doesn't own an iPhone or an iPad," said McConnell.

Entering passwords, especially different passwords across multiple applications, is time consuming. In the case of a pediatric ear, nose, and throat surgeon, the additional 20 minutes per day adds up to one fewer surgery performed, said McConnell. It means a nurse spends less time with patients, he said. Reducing the complexity of passwords while maintaining security was key.

In Fletcher Allen's case, the hospital chose Imprivata OneSign, single sign-on technology that uses a four-digit PIN integrated into the hospital's Epic EHR and badge security system, which it's rolling out to all departments. "It's been a huge time savings," said McConnell. "We can't keep up with demand."

Employees must use their badge for the multi-factor authentication to work, but Fletcher Allen mandates employees must have their badge on at all times anyway. If they forget their badge, they have to return home to collect it, McConnell said. Since badges were already a work requirement, they weren't onerous for OneSign system adoption, he added.

Mobile devices are not solely for clinical staff. Providers are exploring ways to integrate mobile-health products into EHR systems to add data, build relationships, and extend value.

"We are looking at ways to get more patients more engaged in care via remote devices," said Doug Lauterbach, assistant VP of technology and CTO at Ochsner Health System, during an interview at HIMSS14. This includes feeding data back into the Epic EHR via scales, glucometers, blood pressure cuffs, and other monitors. "One of the greatest impacts to managing chronic conditions is patient engagement. The more we can do through technology to help them and keep them engaged is better for everybody."

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.

Alison Diana is an experienced technology, business and broadband editor and reporter. She has covered topics from artificial intelligence and smart homes to satellites and fiber optic cable, diversity and bullying in the workplace to measuring ROI and customer experience. An ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
User Rank: Ninja
3/3/2014 | 10:14:00 PM
But think of the time they save
Ultimately, I'm sure the docs are saving more time than they're losing. When he or she enters data into a well-organized computer system, no doubt the same data is going to at least five different places. So that's one form the doc has to fill out, not five. And, if a bored and overworked human fills out five forms, there are likely to be mistakes in at least one of 'em - so think of all the miscorrelations that won't happen and won't need to be cleared up. I wonder if it's practical for them, too, to carry some kind of badge that substitutes for remembering and typing in passwords - or perhaps some biometric method instead?
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2014 | 10:06:58 AM
Always amazed!!!
Always amazed how far people will go to implement consumer ipads into an enterprise environment that has severe penalites for Privay breaches. Especially when there are so many suitable Enterprise quality devices.

These hospitals would never go to BestBuy, purchase a $350 consumer laptop and put it on their network, but they break their necks and spend $Millions to make ipads somewhat secure and functional.
And the worst part is that as a job tool, based on an 8hr day, an ipad is a 1 year device. The battery is rated for 2000 hours and the touchscreen is rated for 15K touches per quadrant. A "cheap" ipad gets real expensive vs a medical-grade device designed to last for 3 plus years.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/6/2014 | 10:55:20 AM
Devices used in healthcare will continue to reflect innovative use of common tools.
It is time we acknowledge that workers... including physicians... will continue to expand the use commonly used tools (tools they already use) into their work environments. We keep trying to force proprietary solutions, and even put up barriers around tools that are commonly used.  

Physicians and other healthcare providers are becoming more aware of security and HIPAA concerns... they are taking care to protect patient information in their efforts to provide more efficient, accessible care.

IT is changing access to care; access is the key word here.

Frankly, most devices do not retain patient information, but rather link to secure cloud or server-based solutions/apps for PHI (personal or protect health information) data input.

We will not be able to stop innovative use of commonly used tools in healthcare; patients want more access to care (sounds like patient engagement to me). Well... let's just watch and see.
User Rank: Apprentice
3/6/2014 | 11:37:27 PM
Tablet based Patient Information System(PIS)
Tablet based Patient Information System is going to boost the productivity of the medical professionals.Information/Data on patients health can be saved in a local computer server or internet server or cloud server using sync options of the tablets.It replaces manual writings and ensures paperless hospitals and E-Patient records.Doctor can carry a Tablet computer wherever he/she goes and do the job.Usage of tablet is very useful for consultation, room visit, emergency observation reporting etc. It also reduces the cycle time of the process. 

For further additional information, please mail to [email protected]
CIOs Face Decisions on Remote Work for Post-Pandemic Future
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  2/19/2021
11 Ways DevOps Is Evolving
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  2/18/2021
CRM Trends 2021: How the Pandemic Altered Customer Behavior Forever
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  2/18/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Flash Poll