It’s that time of year again when we begin to pack up holiday decorations and do our level best to set goals for what we want to accomplish in the coming year. As the CIO for VITAS Healthcare—the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care—I have one item that I think should be high on every healthcare company’s IT priority list for 2016, and that is to embrace the power of mobile devices and implement a strong mobile strategy.
To be clear, I’m not talking about implementing standard BYOD plans or employing screen-scrape technology that renders a weak or poor-performing legacy application on most mobile platforms. I’m referring to a company’s perception of enterprise applications and its plan to start moving boldly in a direction that embraces mobile devices.
At VITAS, we have implemented a mobile strategy and have found success in embracing mobile devices to help our employees and the patients and families we serve every day. Below are three key points I learned along the way and want to share with you as your company considers how to customize its own plan:
1. Mobility is incredibly powerful.
The importance of mobile devices extends beyond being able to view your email and send text messages. Think about it: in every facet of life, including business life, we have seen mobile devices rise to the top as the preferred method for keeping up-to-date with day-to-day priorities and transacting business. Mobile commerce now accounts for nearly one-third of all U.S. e-commerce sales, according to an analysis of data from Internet Retailer’s 2016 Mobile 500 report. The PEW Research Center says 62% or roughly 6-in-10 smartphone owners have used their phone to research information about health conditions, 57% have used their phone to view bank balances and complete financial transactions, and to add to that, 43% of mobile users have performed job searches on their smartphone.
Today, “mobile” is how people are choosing to live their lives, so why don’t companies let them work that way?
At VITAS, we are proud to help our employees work efficiently and equip them with the tools they are best accustomed to working with so that they can spend more time providing hands-on care to our terminally ill patients and their families.
Technology teams have been slow to adopt mobility as a “prime-time” application platform primarily because it’s been difficult to pick one area of focus in this rapidly changing technology landscape. We have used the excuses of security breaches, difficulty of managing the devices and lack of resources as the reasons for little or no progress, and for many years those have been valid points, but folks, we now have a plethora of IT management tools like those offered by AirWatch. In fact, secure mobile transactions are not only possible, they are a reality in every industry vertical.
3. Mobile devices can transform your company.
The healthcare industry is facing many changes in the coming years and 2016 is going to be a banner year for mobile healthcare. There has never been more of a need to transform healthcare than now and by embracing mobile technology companies have the power to solve one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare right now:
Helping clinicians place more focus on the patient by building an interface that takes the focus away from the computer.
The main complaint I hear from hospital physicians and nurses is not having enough time to spend with the patient, they say, “now that we have electronic charts, I spend most of my time with my face glued to my PC.” At VITAS, our caregivers need to read our patient’s body language, they need to see the patient’s face and give 100% of their attention to helping patients understand and come to grips with one of the most important moments in their lives, the end of life. That’s why VITAS’ 2016 roadmap will roll out a user interface that strives to enhance the human experience as opposed to replacing it with an unnatural workflow or screen. It’s a tremendous challenge, and one that native mobile applications were created to solve. Native mobile applications allow VITAS nurses to put the computer down when needed and the “always-on” nature of mobile means that the screen will be waiting for them whenever the patient is ready to continue. Touch-based applications allow clinicians to capture complex care data with the tap of a finger or a quick scroll to select the right dosage. The power of native mobile applications is that they facilitate flexible workflow which enables VITAS caregivers to capture information in a conversational manner.
In 2015, VITAS made a landmark decision to walk away from the trend of BYOD and instead embraced the fact that the primary “workstation” our caregivers will utilize is a mobile device. I am pleased to share that 2016 is the year VITAS equips more than 5,000 employees on our clinical teams with smart devices. VITAS’ recognition and integration of mobile devices will enable our caregivers to coordinate getting resources and specialized care to the patient’s bedside quicker, all while creating a better and more seamless care experience.
The benefits of embracing mobile healthcare may not resonate equally within all industries, but the demand for a better interface, a better workflow and a better user experience will not go away. It’s time for everyone to start thinking about taking full advantage of mobility and developing “mobile competency” within your IT team. I hope you (and your company) decide to make 2016 your breakout year. Just think about the advantages!