Report: Time to provide nurses with needed mHealth tools

The biggest hospital workforce segment, the nursing staff, is being left out of the mHealth equation by IT organizations concerned about data security, regulatory compliance and inherent costs in building a mobile communications infrastructure, says the author of a new industry report.

"Hospital IT is under invested when it comes to nursing care technology," says Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group which released the report, "Healthcare Without Bounds: Point of Care Communications for Nursing 2014" this week. "More than half of today's nurses still rely on pagers and landline communications," Malkary told FierceMobileHealthcare, and that trend, he says, is negatively impacting patient care and hospital operations efficiency.

But the scenario could quickly change, as the Spyglass report reveals 51 percent of hospitals surveyed are evaluating enterprise-class nursing smartphone solutions to support collaborative team-based care over the next 12 to 18 months. Those solutions, says the report, will likely be a vendor-neutral and scalable architecture addressing current and future application requirements tied to a hospital's clinical information, biomedical devices and nurse call system, states an announcement.

The news comes as mobile healthcare tools and devices are steadily getting into the hands of physicians and clinicians. Providers can use a smartphone app for quicker bodily fluid testing, emergency room doctors can get real-time patient data as they arrive at a patient's bedside thanks to Google Glass and physicians are using smartphones as new tools, including endoscopes.

While many hospitals aren't providing nurses with smartphone-based tools, nurses are increasingly using personal devices on the job despite policy restrictions, notes the report, which states 67 percent of hospitals acknowledge staff nurses are using personal smartphones to support clinical communications and workflow.

That trend, says Malkary, doesn't bode well for the hospital IT organization as it poses security risks and potential fines for possibly violating federal data, privacy and healthcare regulations.  The report reveals 88 percent of hospitals are concerned about the recent HIPAA Omnibus Ruling and the risk of unprotected mobile devices on the hospital's network, which could introduce malicious attacks, malware and viruses.

That is all the more reason hospital IT teams must deploy smartphone tools to the nursing workforce, says Malkary.

"It's time to provide a platform of collaborative care that provides nurses with the ability to communicate, receive alerts regarding patient status and access data on patient treatment. It's time to get everyone on the same page," he says.

"The question isn't 'can we afford it?' but 'can we afford not to do it?' It's imperative to invest in current technology."

For more information:
- read the report overview
- read the announcement

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