Two-thirds of healthcare organizations lack a written mobile strategy

A survey of almost 300 healthcare organizations by Eden Prairie, Minn.-based healthcare communications technology company Amcom Software has found that more than 65 percent of responding healthcare facilities do not have a documented mobility strategy in place. What's more, 37 percent of the survey's respondents do not have plans to implement such a strategy in their organizations.

Of those facilities that do not have a written mobile policy, 31.5 percent currently are working on developing one, while 22 percent have a verbal policy in place. The reasons given for not having a documented mobile strategy included budget constraints, not seeing mobile as a high priority, a lack of awareness, and no leadership for development.

"Documenting a mobility strategy will prompt discussion around overall hospital communications," stated the Amcom white paper. "Assessing and prioritizing the communication needs for the entire organization will catalyze an examination of the products, services and processes that increase efficiency, save time, and promote patient safety across the organization."

In another recent survey, health IT consulting firm Medullan asked more than 100 healthcare professionals to name the top driver for their organization's mHealth initiative. The top answer: "No driver," with nearly one-quarter of respondents pursuing an mHealth initiative without a clear strategy.

Despite a lack of written mobile policies among Amcom's survey respondents, smartphones (67.8 percent), in-house pagers (66.9 percent), and wide-area pagers (64.6 percent) were the most commonly supported mobile devices, followed by Wi-Fi phones and tablets (both 48.6 percent).

According to survey respondents, the top three topics that are important to developing a mobility strategy are security, budget, and integration. In the area of security, almost 70 percent of survey respondents expressed concern, specifically about protected health information security on smartphones.

Amcom's survey also revealed that smartphone use is split (44 percent to 56 percent) between hospital-issued versus personal devices, respectively. Bring-your-own-device approaches were supported by 63.9 percent of hospitals surveyed, while 59.4 percent of organizations allowed/required remote wipe capabilities of the BYOD device in case of loss or theft.

For budget-conscious healthcare organizations, Amcom argued that savings can be had through BYOD approaches when "the cost of the devices and plans is borne in part by the employees."

"Where budget is a major consideration, organizations need to incorporate the positive outcomes from implementing a comprehensive plan," the white paper's authors wrote.

In terms of integration, Amcom recommended a single web-based staff directory with staff availability and contact preferences to make system integration easier. Clinical alerting middleware or other software products can be "programmed with logic to locate the right person or the right device," the whitepaper stated.

To learn more:
- here's the white paper (.pdf)