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Clinical mobility: the pebble in a provider's pond

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The old adage of a pebble tossed into a pond is well known – in large part, due to its universal application to so many topics. Yet, when it comes to delivering mobile technology in a clinical environment, we still often see the proverbial stepping stone approach. Linear. Rigid. Predefined.

Unfortunately, with healthcare technology (finally) maturing so rapidly, throwing that single application or device into the pond of patient care does indeed create ripples. And everyone seems to have their own rock to throw.

As a Healthcare Clinician, Executive, or Technologist, you will undoubtedly have some strong opinions as to what Clinical Mobility is. That’s your rock. It’s what you know, and what you believe in. And it’s important. However, understanding how and when your ripples intersect with others is the critical factor to an effective Clinical Mobility strategy. Considerations beget decisions, which beget more considerations.

Clinicians: does that new alarm management application work with the 3,000 devices IT just bought?

Executives: how does your compliance program affect how those devices are secured?

Technologists: what impact will that fancy new enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform have on network performance?

Ripples. All of them. But none of them should be deal-breakers.

For the past few years, we’ve been working with clients to ideate, deliver, and adopt mobile technology to improve care delivery. While every project has presented us with unique challenges, understanding the ripple effect of mobile technology has allowed our clients to broaden their vision, increase efficiency, and adopt more quickly. By focusing on the bigger picture, our comprehensive approach allows us to constantly reiterate and optimise with minimal consequence.

When asked by clients and colleagues what makes for a winning Clinical Mobility strategy, I often refer to the following essential success factors as most critical:

Find common ground.

It is not at all unusual for clinical, executive, and technical stakeholders to work in silos, only coming together after a mobile project is well underway, with time and money already spent. Committing a few days with one another, understanding the priorities of each organisation and identifying specific milestones and existing investments will not only save time and money. It will create a network of mobile champions, looking out for the best interest of everyone involved.

Workflow first.

We have seen some incredibly cool technology hit the streets in recent months. They have that ‘gotta have it’ appeal, but can shroud the reason for the existence of Clinical Mobility in the first place – to improve patient care. If the focus is instead placed on workflow, it re-emphasises how devices and applications inter-operate. Shiny objects are vital to innovation, but not critical to usability, and can encumber care delivery.

Don’t underestimate the phase of adoption.

Your end user is your front line to the patient, and the single most important part of a successful strategy. If they haven’t been made aware of what’s coming, you’re in a heap of trouble. If they haven’t been properly trained when the technology hits the care unit, it will go unused. And you can only imagine what might happen should the technology not work as advertised. Ensure you build awareness slowly, train methodically, and test relentlessly. Of course, constant user feedback is an invaluable tool, so make sure their voices are heard.

It’s never over.

Once you think you’ve got a great device, elegant applications, and a powerful underlying architecture to enhance clinician experience and patient outcomes, something will change. A new use case might be presented, a new regulation may be mandated, or a new feature in the latest version of a critical app may become compelling. Welcome to Clinical Mobility, and its ever-changing state of complexity. Embrace it. Don’t let complacency stand in your way of great things.

Remember the pebble in the pond. For every small decision, countless waves of complexity resonate throughout the organisation. Having the awareness to anticipate how the pieces fit together, the flexibility to address constant change, and the ability to serve the evolving needs of your end user will be your foundation for success.

To learn more about Dimension Data’s approach to Clinical Mobility, visit us next week, 19-23 February at Booth 911 at the HIMSS Conference in Orlando, Florida.

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