4 ways nurses can help implement mHealth

Though they are on the front lines of patient care, nurses are taking a backseat to doctors as hospitals seek to implement mobile healthcare. In fact, nurses are often excluded from the front-end development and deployment of mHealth technologies resulting in wasted time and money, according to an article by Debbie Gregory, a registered nurse and co-founder and president of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design.

"There are so many exciting possibilities offered by mobile health in the hospital, but the one corner we need to hear more from is nursing," asserts Gregory. "Most often on the front lines of patient care, nurses are the people using the technologies, facilitating the access, involving the consumer, communicating with physicians, and therefore, it's imperative that they are directly involved in the creation of mHealth."

She says there are several ways to foster greater nurse involvement in mHealth implementations, including:

  • Hospitals with an Office of Excellence, Office of Lean Process Improvement, Office of Transformation, Office of Innovation or similarly oriented executive function should involve nurses to obtain their input on emerging technologies and other workflow innovations
  • An interdisciplinary IT strategic team that includes biomedical, IT, nursing and facility management will give technology initiatives more credibility and protect the integrity of the design intent
  • Encourage vendors developing apps and devices to establish mock rooms in the hospital, so that nurses can experience technologies in a familiar setting, which can aid in their discovery process, uncover valuable feedback for the vendor and improve the usability of the technology
  • Create a Nurse Technology Liaison position--a nurse who is a designated, full-time go-between for clinical staff and IT

When it comes to rural care, she believes that for those populations that live outside large cities with limited medical care and access to health services, nurse practitioners (NPs) equipped with mobile technology are particularly well suited to provide that healthcare, especially with the shortage of primary and family doctors in those remote areas. 

"It's well accepted that NPs can perform about 80 percent of the work of primary care physicians, including, in many states, prescribing medications," Gregory argues. "Mobile technology can give nurses access to on-the-go imaging devices, drug formularies, electronic medical records, diagnostic equipment--everything required to provide primary and family care."

Earlier this year, Health eVillages announced that it will serve as the basis of a nurse educator program providing coordinators with mobile resources needed to help bolster the quality of care in the area around Hinche, a city in central Haiti. Through the program, Health eVillages will sponsor two coordinators--one from Regis College in Weston, Mass. and one from Haiti--and will also support the health center in Hinche by sending Regis' nurse educators, armed with iPod Touches, to teach there twice a year.

The Haitian coordinator will receive training at Regis College on Physicians Interactive's Skyscape medical resource app running on Apple iPad and iPod Touch devices. She will then return to Hinche to train her staff on how to use the devices to deliver better patient care at the health center and nearby rural areas. The devices have been updated with several new French-language medical apps to increase accessibility for the Haitian nurses.  

To learn more:
- read the article

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