Don't ignore nurses in your hospital's push to go mobile

Hospital CIOs may already be overwhelmed by the mobile demands of physicians, but ready or not, your nurses also are looking to port their practices onto a mobile platform.

A new survey of 1,000 nurses, conducted by Springer Publishing, shows nearly 75 percent own a smartphone, and more than 50 percent have downloaded medical apps onto their devices.

"These findings indicate the rapid growth of mobile technology use among those in the healthcare industry, as well as the growing demand for eBooks and mobile applications that serve the professional development and reference needs of nurses," Pascal Schwarzer, Springer's VP for digital business development, said according to a Healthcare IT News article.

Still not convinced? Other nursing-focused mobile moves going on around the U.S. include:

Vendors rapidly developing nursing tools: App developers are targeting more caregiving roles these days, not just treatment or therapies. For example, in an initiative at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, nurses' use iPads to explain surgical procedures to children, and reduce their pre-op anxiety. "Because the iPad has several means of providing entertainment and is also extremely portable, it's a fantastic tool for helping kids cope during medical procedures," note bloggers at Soliant Health.

Messaging and software vendors are targeting nurses specifically with their new products, and partnering to develop everything from unified messaging systems to VoIP connectivity for nurses via smartphones.

Car-maker Toyota also has some intriguing new robotics for use in patient homes, helping with patient lifts and transfers, as well as mobility robots to help nurses get their patients moving both in the hospital and in the home.

Hospitals getting on board: Sarasota [Fla.] Memorial Hospital has a huge two-year-old mobile program for nursing. FierceMobileHealthcare talked to CIO Denis Baker about his progressive program, which largely focuses on messaging for the facility's 400-plus nurses. Clinicians carry iPhones as a replacement for pagers and overhead paging systems.

The big bonus has been getting the right message or alert, often directly from patients, to the right nurse, according to Baker. The sound reduction, from what used to be hundreds of overhead pages per day, has been a major plus, too, he said.

Nursing organizations leaping on the mobile bandwagon: A number of nursing schools across the U.S. have begun to use mobile education tools. Penn State's School of Nursing even launched an app contest in September, charging its students to develop nursing-specific healthcare apps.

The American Nursing Association also created QR codes for its primary publication, the The American Nurse.

One interesting note from the Springer study: Hospitals likely will have to adopt a device-agnostic policy to accommodate nurses' mobile preferences. Nurses aren't quite as hooked on iPads or iPhones as their physician counterparts. Forty-three percent of nurses own an iPod Touch or iPhone, while 30 percent use Android and 20 percent use an RIM/Blackberry device. About 22 percent own an iPad, according to the study. - Sara