Community care reaches a mobile moment

The term ‘mobile moment’ was coined by Forrester analyst Ted Schadler to explain how mobile technology is redefining the customer relationship.

To take advantage of the ‘mobile moment’ mobile health, the health sector must understand the patient and care worker needs and put it into context and then design mobile applications round that so called ‘moment’.

As the healthcare industry changes into more collaborative patient care models, frontline healthcare workers want access to as many tools as possible on their mobile devices that enable them to deliver timely, quality care efficiently.

>See also: 5 myths of enterprise app development in a mobile-first world

Mobile technology has the ability to transform the way we provide community care. Community services provide healthcare, well being and care services from childhood through to the end of life and supporting some of the most vulnerable people.

They are a large part of NHS activity, with around 100 million community contacts each year. The breadth of these services range from universal public health functions, such as health visiting and school nursing, to targeted specialist interventions in musculo-skeletal services, chronic disease management and intensive rehabilitation.

Changing face of healthcare

Over the last decade, healthcare has had mixed fortunes automating its processes using digital technology.

Although primary care has made good progress, information technology to support healthcare workers in the field has been limited.

This has resulted in labour intensive paper-based documentation both in the field and back at base.

Communication with other provider organisations such as hospitals and GP practices has also been paper driven.

More recently, much of the concept to utilising technology to support remote working has focussed on electronic health records.

A step in the right direction? Yes, but essentially trying to recreate an organisation-based environment in the field is an upside-down way of looking at things and does not take advantage of the opportunities mobile working brings. 

They are focussed on retrieving and updating records on desktops and don’t provide the contextual data on mobile devices that support healthcare workers in their interaction with patients and put them centre stage.

Security is also a key issue. Security risks arise when remote users are given full, unlimited access to back-office systems.

Best practice demands that mobile devices should only be able to access records that are relevant to the job. Therefore, the goal is to provide properly configured access that keeps confidential patient information secure while also ensuring a good user experience and quality care.

In addition to the technology, it is important to underscore the importance of service redesign on which to place technological building blocks.

The King’s Fund charity, working to improve health and healthcare in England, believes that a simpler pattern of services should be created, built around primary care, natural geographies and multidisciplinary teams.

>See also: Mobile malware – the new school

This would in itself create a ‘more complete and less fragmented service’, the charity’s recent report stated.

Changing lives

Building on the King’s Fund report, redesigning community services will not only make a significant difference to people’s lives, but could also provide the ability to unlock change in both the primary and acute care sector.

The time has come when community services need to be connected to other parts of the health and social care system, not viewed in isolation.

Services considering mobile technology need to take a step back first and take a holistic view of its offering and how it can be provided in a more innovative, consumer-orientated way.

This will not come without its challenges and involve multiple processes that may typically interact with several IT systems.

The big risk is that users will end up with different apps for different systems with a complete lack of integration.

A dead cert for killing off the so-called mobile moment. In order to arrive at the mobile moment in the community, organisation-wide solutions must provide users with a fully integrated mobile experience.

Mobile apps require a significantly different design philosophy that may be totally foreign to healthcare. To overcome the challenges of a browser-based approach or developing custom-based apps, healthcare organisations need to develop and implement an enterprise app platform.

Its aim is to allow users to have a full mobile experience covering all aspects of their workflow resulting in a seamless, integrated service i.e. the one stop shop on the device, whatever that may be. 

They must provide everything care workers need, when they need it, on the most appropriate mobile device and making sure it is easy and intuitive to use.

Investment is required. The end result is a series of mobile moments with the health care professional having a simpler, more predictable experience that is optimised for care delivery, while still capturing all relevant information.

Just as the patient should be at the centre of the care worker’s workflow, so the care worker should be at the centre of the mobile solution design.

Moving forward

Community care is overstretched, making the daily demands of record keeping, home visits and patient monitoring a real challenge for workers in the field.

More emphasis needs to be put on their requirements so that their time can be better spent caring for patients.

Mobile technology can empower both care workers and the patients they are working with, improving health care, providing key decision making data and at the same time keeping it within budget.

>See also: Mobile collaboration – Bringing new-world communication to the enterprise

They must provide everything care workers need, when they need it, on the most appropriate mobile device and making sure it is easy and intuitive to use.

Mobile technology has a key role to play in providing more efficient care and increasing independence. 

It can enable greater participation for patients, reducing isolation and improving motivation and well-being as well as care-worker job satisfaction. 

We should be looking to embrace a mobile strategy that links the entire chain of connections to significantly improve social care provision over the coming years.


Sourced from Colin Reid, CEO, TotalMobile

Avatar photo

Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

Related Topics

Mobile Technology