Dec 05 2019
Patient-Centered Care

Mobile Devices in Healthcare: a Positive Patient Experience

Keeping patients happy doesn’t end with mobile technology — but it’s an excellent start.

Mobile devices in a healthcare setting is a growing trend. According to a 2018 Jamf survey, 9 out of 10 healthcare IT decision-makers had either already implemented or planned to implement a mobile device initiative; 56 percent of those surveyed specifically identified patient rooms as a part of that implementation.

Even more telling, however, is how the survey highlights the impact that mobile device adoption has had on patient satisfaction. Ninety-six percent of respondents reported that mobile devices improved their organization’s patient experience scores, a third of which rose drastically.

This data helps to illustrate how mobile device adoption, while not a perfect answer to making patients happier, is perhaps the closest thing that a clinic or hospital might find.

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: Watch a video about new Zebra Technologies tools designed to improve care delivery.

Why Mobile Devices in Healthcare Matter

Clinicians have long used devices such as pagers in healthcare settings, but modern mobile devices allow nurses, doctors and other members of care teams to communicate far more conveniently and effectively.

Since their recent mobile device adoption, Grady Health System in Atlanta is already witnessing a shift in how their clinical staff operate. Grady doctors and nurses today average sending 30,000 to 40,000 secure text messages each month, often including patient images in the messages.

This type of robust communications environment makes a difference for patients too, improving their overall satisfaction and even healthcare outcomes

Angela Geraets, writing for Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare, attributes this satisfaction to a pair of problems that mobile technology addresses: a reduction in hospital noise from alarms and paging systems, and a reduction in the response time to nurse call lights. When caregivers get alarms and requests for help on their mobile devices, they are able to run quieter and more efficient operations. 

And, Geraets points out, better communication leads to better health.

“Hospitals are embracing smartphones as a solution to minimize problems caused by communication failures, delays and errors, which contribute to 50%-80% of the most serious and harmful patient events,” she writes.

Putting the Power in Patients’ Hands

There are benefits associated with putting devices directly in the hands of patients too.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital maintains a fleet of iPad devices that are issued to young patients when they are admitted. Executive Vice President and COO David Higginson refers to the tablets as “distraction devices.” Patients can use the devices to play games and stream child-friendly movies and educational content.

The devices also fight an even more insidious foe than boredom: loneliness. “We have patients with cystic fibrosis who have to be in isolation over the winter months,” Higginson tells HealthTech. “Imagine being a teenager locked in a room with no access to social media for a month. It’s miserable.” With the issued devices, patients can access their social media accounts and stay connected with friends.

Mobile devices are also a means to closing the healthcare knowledge gap that can prevent patients from being active participants in their own care. The Jamf report indicates 64 percent of mobile adopters see patient education — through apps and material delivery — as a key driver of their adoption plans.

Convenient access to information for patients can help give them a sense of control as well. As recently as 2015, a HealthMine survey found that over half of Americans could not access their electronic health data. Seventy-four percent of patients shared that easy access to their data would not only improve their healthcare knowledge but also their communication with their doctors.

Simply investing in a secure, accessible patient portal available via a mobile device is an easy way for healthcare organizations to boost patient engagement and satisfaction.

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