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Hospital Mobile Strategy Still In Flux

Posted on January 8, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

The following is a look at how hospitals’ use of communication devices has changed since 2011, and what the patterns are now.  You might be surprised to read some of these data points since in some cases they defy conventional wisdom.

The researchers behind the study, communications tech provider Spok, Inc. surveyed about 300 healthcare professionals this year, and have tracked such issues since 2011. The report captures data on the major transitions in hospital mobile communications that have taken place since then.

For example, the report noted that in 2011, 84% of staffers received job-related alerts on pagers. Sixty-two percent are using wireless in-house phones, 61% desk phones, 77% email on their computers, 44% cell phones and 5% other devices.

Since then, mobile device usage in hospitals has changed significantly. For example, 77% of respondents said that their hospital supports smartphone use. The popularity of some devices has come and gone over time, including tablets and Wi-Fi phones (which are nonetheless used by 63% of facilities).

Perhaps the reason this popularity has risen and fallen is that hospitals are still finding it tricky to support mobile devices. The issues include supporting needed infrastructure for Wi-Fi coverage (45%), managing cellular coverage infrastructure (30%), maintaining data security (31%) and offering IT support for users (about 30%). Only 11% of respondents said they were not facing any of these concerns at present.

When the researchers asked the survey panel which channels were best for sharing clinical information in a hospital, not all cited contemporary mobile devices. Yes, smartphones did get the highest reliability rating, at 3.66 out of five points, but pagers, including encrypted pagers, were in second place with a rating of 3.20. Overhead announcements came in third at 2.91 and EHR apps at 2.39.

The data on hospitals and BYOD policies seemed counterintuitive as well. According to Spok, 88% of facilities supported some form of BYOD in 2014, or in other words, roughly 9 out of 10.  That percentage has fallen drastically, however, BYOD support hitting 59% this year.

Not surprisingly, clinicians are getting the most leeway when it comes to using their own devices on campus. In 2017, 90% of respondents said they allowed their clinicians to bring their own devices with them. Another 69% supported BYOD for administrators, 57% for nurses and 56% for IT staffers. Clearly, hospital leaders aren’t thrilled about supporting mobility unless it keeps clinical staff aligned with the facility.

To control this cacophony of devices, 30% said they were using enterprise mobility management solutions, 40% said they were evaluating such solutions and 30% said they had no plans to do so. Apparently, despite some changes in the devices being used, hospitals still aren’t sure who should have mobile tools, how to support them and what infrastructure they need to keep those devices lit up and useful.

Verizon Takes On Healthcare Security, Gives Free Credentials To Millions of Providers

Posted on December 7, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Want to know how badly Verizon wants to take a quick leading role in the emerging mHealth business?  Executives are willing to admit right out that the marginal value of using their networks for good ‘ol landline phone calls is effectively gone. Their future lies in solving thorny problems for rapidly evolving verticals like the healthcare industry, it seems.

“Today, the real cost of making a phone call is zero,” said Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president and chief medical information officer for Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, who spoke to us on the floor of this week’s mHealth Summit exhibit “That’s why we’re becoming a technology (read, network applications and services) company.”

Among the more interesting services pitched by Dr. Tippett and colleagues was Verizon’s Medical Data Exchange, which, if I understood our chat correctly, is an HIE add-0n which they’ve built to be more flexible and secure than the existing HIE models out there.

Unlike HIE systems, MDE doesn’t store patient data, Dr. Tippett explained. It’s Web services platform allowing providers to push both structured and structured information to each other through transcription platforms and the Verizon Healthc are Provider Portal, along with traditional medical records data.

To keep data secure, Verizon supports the exchange through its related Universal Identity Services for Healthcare, which lets providers get digital health data through the MDE using a secure, private inbox accessible through the provider portal. The identity credentials meet HIPAA requirements for HIST level 3 authentication, allowing for e-prescribing of controlled substances or accessing electronic patient data.

To support the MDE play, Verizon has begun issuing free medical identity credentials  to 2.3 million U.S. doctors physician assistants and nurse practitioners. These credentials should meet HITECH standards for strong identity credentials, VZ  says.

But wait, dear readers — I started out this item telling you I’d offer info on Verizon’s mHealth position. Well, at the risk of being cruel,  if it has any front-end apps or middleware to directly support mHealth deployment in play, Dr. Tippett wasn’t discussing them.

Still, to be fair, there’s approximately a gajillion front-end developers, and many many companies capable of creating middleware which can normalize mobile data and fit into the EMR space. (SAP, for example, told us it was all over the problem.)

It will certainly be interesting to see how Verizon fares in a world where brute force network ownership doesn’t impress, but technical know-how and new mobile deployment models do. Hospital leaders, have you seen any signs that Verizon will be a player in your mobile strategies as of yet?