Aug 22 2023
Digital Workspace

How to Approach Mobile Device Management Throughout the Device Lifecycle to Ease Clinical Workflows

From purchasing devices to refreshing them for the next user, mobile device management offers a lifecycle of steps throughout a healthcare provider’s workflow, which includes clinical collaboration and home healthcare.

Mobile device management is an important strategy that protects an organization’s devices and keeps data flowing securely. In healthcare, it provides flexibility for physicians to work remotely and conduct house calls, but it also requires controls to protect patient data.

Adam Mahmud, senior product marketing manager for healthcare at device management company Jamf, says mobile device management tools are central to the workflow of healthcare providers as they consume information and coordinate with colleagues. It lets IT teams set up devices for clinicians and provides the applications they need for their daily routines.

“It’s a stack of technologies that allows you to set baseline configurations for devices, set out applications on devices, issue remote commands and ensure devices are updated,” Mahmud says.

When purchasing devices for an organization such as a hospital, IT teams should focus on the user’s needs rather than the “shiniest thing,” he advises. Mahmud says he has seen examples of IT teams purchasing mobile devices for nurses that are difficult to carry in their scrubs.

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The Benefits of a Mobile Device Management Platform in Healthcare

UCHealth, a Colorado-based health system, uses the Jamf mobile device management platform to control and secure a fleet of devices for patients and staff. The software frees physicians from the need to worry about security or whether they have the latest OS version installed, says Ed Horowitz, senior systems analyst in clinical informatics at UCHealth.

“It offers a level of security and peace of mind so the providers don’t have to think about it,” he says.

Mobile device management allows the health system to track how many devices one department has compared with another, says Horowitz. It also displays charging status for devices and provides alerts when updates need to be pushed. UCHealth can also wipe data from devices if needed, Horowitz says.

How UCHealth Deploys Mobile Device Management

Device deployment at UCHealth consists of a shared-use model rather than one device per patient or provider, Horowitz says. In the shared model, clinicians take out a device for the duration of their shift and then return it to the inventory when their shift ends.

Jamf has cut the work of deploying devices in half for IT support teams at UCHealth, says Gwen Martinez, a nurse and clinical informatics special projects manager at the health system. The organization only has one IT employee per site, so it relies on Jamf to help with large deployments, she says.

The mobile device management tool standardizes access to many types of devices, including mobile phones and laptops, and connects securely to the Epic electronic health record platform, Horowitz adds.

UCHealth uses mobile device management to manage hardware inventory and determine the number of devices to deploy. The platform provides insights to UCHealth on how many devices are being used, he says. 

Inventory includes a mix of older and newer iPhone devices, including the iPhone 8 and iPhone 13, Horowitz says.

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The health system only allows the use of HIPAA-compliant devices that have passed security review, Horowitz says. The team also locks down devices to make sure users do not share personal health information over an open system, Horowitz says.

Once a device has been provisioned with a set of applications, this configuration can change, Mahmud notes. Proper communication between care teams and IT can ensure that providers have the updates they need.

The health system also uses the mobile device management tool to handle application compatibility and choose which applications to install on devices.

“We need to make sure the apps coming from Epic are compatible with mobile devices that have a different OS,” Horowitz says. “It’s still a struggle. We are learning a lot as we go, but it gives us a much better handle on knowing what's in our inventory and how to use it.”

Mobile device management applications allow clinicians to find the applications they need rather than searching on Google Play or the Apple App Store themselves, according to Mahmud.

“Instead of making the user go get the app and find the right registration code and login, device management can push out an app in a preconfigured, managed, secure way so that when users see the app installed on their phone, they can open it and it’s ready to go,” Mahmud says.

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Managing Mobile Device Turnover in Healthcare

When health systems first deploy a device, they should plan what to do at the end of the device’s lifecycle. Hospital IT departments managing the transition of device fleets must avoid a “laptop graveyard” with old devices lying around in supply closets. 

With mobile device management applications, IT teams maintain control over devices when an employee leaves a company.

“If a device disappears, they can’t find the unit or someone who has left the organization takes it, we can shut it down so it can’t be used,” Horowitz says.

A zero-touch procedure allows IT teams to offload employees’ devices from a network, according to Mahmud.

“When we’re trying to offboard or offload or you have to prep a device for turnover, the ability to remotely touch not one device but thousands of devices en masse is huge,” Mahmud says.

Ed Horowitz
We are learning a lot as we go, but it gives us a much better handle on knowing what's in our inventory and how to use it.”

Ed Horowitz Senior Systems Analyst in Clinical Informatics, UCHealth

Expanding Hardware Inventory at UCHealth

Eventually, Horowitz would like the mobile device management platform to alert UCHealth when it’s time to refresh their devices, he says.

The health system is in the process of deploying 2,500 devices at a new tower for its teaching hospital in Denver, and the mobile device management platform will help the health system manage this inventory. This new deployment will double the mobile device fleet for UCHealth, according to Horowitz.

“With this large deployment, we’re going to be much more on top of the lifecycle as far as how often we need to refresh these,” Horowitz says.

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