How can mobile improve the future of healthcare?

The UK healthcare system today could certainly do with a much-needed shot in the arm. It seems every day brings a new challenge to the National Health Service (NHS). This problem becomes especially acute during the winter months.

Delivering 21st century healthcare with ever-decreasing budgets is a real challenge for healthcare professionals. It’s not all doom and gloom as there is a solution that is helping revolutionise delivery of UK healthcare provision: clinical mobility.

Clinical mobility involves the use of mobile devices, such as handheld mobile computers, tablets and mobile printers, by physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals at the point-of-care. When it is administered correctly, this technology can elevate patient care, expand the positive use of mobile devices in healthcare and even ensure healthcare has a more personalised approach.

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This new adoption of technology in healthcare allows workers to access data networks and information on supported mobile devices to benefit patients. Using devices such as mobile computers and tablets to view electronic health records, health practitioners can access innovative software applications and tools to save resources.

As clinical mobile technology starts to reshape healthcare delivery, it’s important to ask: do patients want to embrace this technological healthcare revolution? How is it being used today? What does the future hold for mobile technology in the healthcare space?

Patient demand for mobile technology

According to Zebra Technologies’ 2022 Hospital Vision Study, which combines three global research surveys focusing on nursing managers, patients and IT decision makers, 77% of recently hospitalised patients feel positive about clinicians using mobile devices in their care.

What is also encouraging is that 95% of patients were willing to share their health metrics, collected from wearables. With clinicians to improve medical services, this represents a game-changing attitude to future healthcare delivery.

Mobile technology in use today and tomorrow

Let’s not run before we can walk though. The use of mobile technology in UK healthcare is still in its early age. The NHS already sees the potential of this new way of monitoring patients’ health and existing conditions. For example, wearables, underpinned by mobile technology are being trialled today.

>See also: How technology is transforming home healthcare

The NHS currently continues its pilots with wearable technology placed on patients’ upper arms, allowing continuous monitoring of patients’ vital health signs. The collected data is transferred via Wi-Fi regularly, then put through machine learning algorithms before doctors and nurses view it on smartphone apps to analyse any changes.

This is an example of how technology linked to mobile use can spot health deterioration that hospital staff can help prevent from getting worse. This can, in turn, reduce hospital stays and save the need for doctors and nurses to manually monitor vital signs.

Aside from the somewhat futuristic appeal of wearables, mobile technology can improve the most fundamentally important aspect of the healthcare service: patient interaction. Mobile healthcare will see advances in remote patient monitoring and telehealth.

These facets of efficient healthcare provision will become ever-more essential in society. This is due to population growth and longer life expectancy, placing even more pressure on the NHS budgets. Technology here can help save the use of precious consultancy time.

Analytics will play an important role in healthcare delivery. Zebra’s Hospital Vision Study found that 100% of nurses plan to access predictive analytics on mobile devices by 2022. The benefits of analytics in the healthcare space include more personalised healthcare, better doctor-patient interaction and most importantly driving cost-savings and efficiencies.

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The big picture

With the UK healthcare industry facing many challenges, from increasingly aging populations and staff shortages to rising costs, mobility emerges rapidly as the desired solution of nurses, IT professionals and patients.

It’s also encouraging to know that patients themselves are enthusiastic about mobility. It shows that there is a growing association with receiving the best standard of treatment. We believe clinical mobility is essential for the healthcare industry to become more efficient and effective while enabling healthcare professionals the best means to help people.

Wearable and mobile technology are still in their infancy in relation to the healthcare sector. It is realistic to take these innovations as more than a novelty and begin to think creatively and with an open mind as to how they can be strategically applied to issues that doctors, and workers on the frontline struggle to handle throughout the NHS.

In short, the NHS must invest in purpose-built, smart mobile communication devices if it is to improve patient experiences, nurse satisfaction and hospital efficiency to provide adequate health services under tight financial budgets.

 

Sourced by Wayne Miller, healthcare director EMEA at Zebra Technologies

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.