The healthcare industry is changing.
Technology is influencing how patients interact with doctors, how nurses interface with patients, and how tech devices communicate with other systems throughout the hospitalization process.
The George Washington University, School of Business wrote an article about this change in healthcare and what we can expect as it unfolds.
“Technological advancements [in healthcare] contribute to a shift in our patient-centered healthcare system.” – George Washington University”
What George Washington University does in their study is essential for any care facility. Foreseeing the trajectory of the healthcare space can help many embrace new and important trends before they’re pushed into obsolescence.
So, with that in mind, where can we expect healthcare technology to end up in a couple more years?
That’s exactly what Zebra sought to answer with their insightful 2022 Hospital Vision Study. By commissioning three global research studies, they were able to pick up on a noticeable shift in how acute care hospitals are currently operating. Using those findings, they put together a ballpark estimate of what they believe the healthcare industry will look like in 2022.
The shift? A staggering increase in the use of mobile devices throughout the hospitalization process, being termed “clinical mobility”.
Clinical Mobility refers to the use of mobile devices by healthcare professionals during different points of care. These may include handheld computers, tablets, and phones among other things.
Data accessed by caretakers on smart technology has seen a steady rise in recent years. Zebra is predicting that over 90% of all healthcare professionals will jump on board by 2022.
And Clinical Mobility doesn’t only affect caregivers. In fact, the study found that 57% of patients in 2017 used wearable devices to track their health. Of those, 95% were willing to share information gathered with their clinicians.
And this shift in awareness and implementation of tech couldn’t have come at a better time.
Globally, the healthcare industry faces challenges of aging populations, shortages in staff, and rising costs. Automated operations, such as remote patient monitoring and health tracking, help. They can cut down on human error and provide more time with patients in need of attention.
What Contributes to These Numbers?
If there’s one thing these numbers can sound like in a vacuum, it’s over exaggerated. With a little bit of context, however, these findings are anything but. Consider a nurse’s typical 12 hour shift.
In that time, a nurse will walk between four to five miles. Not only is that exhausting, but so is jumping from station to station to check and confirm medical history or prescriptions.
Throw something like a tablet loaded with all that information into the mix, and you have professionals with every piece of information they’ll ever need for a patient. Suddenly, nurses across all disciplines are able to budget their time accordingly.
And the use cases for technology don’t end at information storage. Having the right hardware on hand at a moment’s notice helps invariably with processes like:
- Verifying the right medication
- Monitoring a patient’s vital signs while on the move
- Confirming lab orders before drawing specimens
- Locating and obtaining inventory
You’ll notice right away that these uses don’t only help staff streamline operation, but they all contribute to heightened efficiency and patient care. That’s the beauty of clinical mobility and the healthcare world of 2022, according to Zebra.
What’s Going to Stand in the Way?
Of course, if adopting clinical mobility were so simple, every facility across the world would reap the benefits without hesitation. There will always be a few roadblocks to address in grand shifts in operation such as the one Zebra predicts. In the case of healthcare and clinical mobility, security is one such hurdle.
Health records and medical history are very sensitive pieces of information. Having all of that loaded onto a device can be vastly beneficial for staff, but concerning for those worried about their privacy. Fortunately, Zebra found that 42% of surveyed hospitals at the time were looking to install data encryption and remote device wiping for the devices they use to store that information. Needless to say, other facilities may have a harder time tossing this extra protection into their technology.
Hardware-wise, technology is also going to need certain features that lend themselves well to being used by healthcare professionals. For example, intuitive use is a must since it’ll be used by both patients and caregivers. Furthermore, scans and readings need to be performed accurately the first time.
As far as sanitation is concerned, devices will need to support use with gloved hands (something certain touch screens don’t accommodate) and be able to withstand multiple cleanings and disinfections. UV light sanitation might be a valuable avenue for hospitals to explore since it takes minutes at most and doesn’t harm the hardware.
Lastly, there will be a switch in the dynamic between IT managers and care staff. With technology becoming more omnipresent in the healthcare space, many facilities may find that adopting clinical mobility means giving IT executives more of a leading role as opposed to a passive one. Depending on the staff, this shift in dynamic could take some time to get used to.
It’s no grand revelation, but technology is the future in more than just the healthcare space. Everything from creative and manufacturing industries to even healthcare and education industries have been making a slow but impactful switch to more tech based operation.
With that in mind, modernizing the hospital infrastructure with new tech seems to be the general consensus when it comes to the next step in healthcare operations. And this is more than noticeable when you look at Zebra’s projections for the implementation of mobile device policies in 2022.