The top three challenges facing providers striving to develop and deploy compliant mHealth tools are lack of a clear strategy, the decision to invest in technology without an alignment of business goals and a lack of budget and staffing resources, according to Massimiliano Claps, research director, IDC Government Insights and Health Insights.
A fourth challenge, Claps told FierceMobileHealthcare in a recent interview, is the misconception of how regulatory compliance plays into the effort.
"Regulatory compliance is an enabler of the strategy execution," Claps said. "Once strategic goals have been established, governance and policies need to be defined and enforced to make sure strategy execution is efficient, effective and compliant."
Lack of compliance increases clinical, financial and reputation risks, according to Claps, but does not stop the ability to gain value from mobile computing investments. What's more, he said, a lack of skills drives over-reliance on vendors from a solution architecture design and development perspective, which leads to scope creep and high cost of maintenance.
The hurdles are what prompted the research firm to issue its latest report, "IDC PlanScape: Mobile Computing Strategy for Hospitals." ICD recommends hospitals begin with a detailed analysis of the requirements and benefits that can be delivered to at least five broad user groups, according to a report announcement.
An increasing number of hospitals are embracing mHealth for various reasons, from boosting communications between nurses and physicians to helping young asthma patients become more proactive in care to fostering a more collaborative care environment.
Claps says a good first step is gaining an understanding of business requirements and goals, including appropriateness of service delivery at the point of care, efficiency, timeliness, safety of processes and improving engagement with patients.
"It is very important to map the constituency that can benefit from mobile computing," he said.
A good second step is to assess current capabilities.
"In practical terms, if a hospital has a legacy physician order entry system with an interface that cannot work on a mobile devices, it would be a waste to try to develop a mobile app," Claps said.