Professional device or consumer device?

The need for the use of mobile devices is also increasingly evident among healthcare professionals. eHealth - a magazine that deals with new technologies in an operational system management between medical and technical figures working in hospitals - recently published an interesting article asking whether it is more preferable to use mobile applications via devices already in use by staff, or to use a specially designed device.

Optimising treatment costs is an institutional but often controversial requirement. On the other hand, improving the way healthcare institutions operate by optimising processes that require the coordination of teams, departments and agencies is generally seen as a benefit on all sides. Moreover, in a new world that connects people with information, materials and services via mobile solutions and theInternet of Things, the cues for improving efficiency are many. These improvements translate into real savings that can be reinvested in patient services. An organisation that is more agile and lean, but also better connected and organic, is able to better control costs in the face of increasing demand for its services.

Mobile solutions are needed to manage increasingly mobile infrastructures such as hospitals. For hospitals, health care companies and clinics, the topic of mobile solutions is very topical and relevant as nurses, doctors, technicians and all staff have to fulfil their roles in accordance with national or international standards wherever they are. They need access to patient data from various environments, e.g. from the patient room, the doctors' or nurses' room, the emergency room, the operating theatre, the pharmacy or common areas.

It is possible to explain this point better by considering the initial question: it is better for the customer to use their mobile applications via a smartphone that some of the staff already use (BYOD - Bring Your Own Device) or use a specially designed professional device (Purpose-built business device)?

A leading international ICT products and solutions company interviewed forty senior managers in the healthcare sector in Great Britain, Italy, Spain and France in 2016. The interview revealed the managers' intention to increasingly adopt mobility solutions aimed at theefficiency and the cost reduction. Specifically, two very important factors weigh heavily on this will and they are the increasing lack of nursing staff and the introduction of the electronic medical records. The 6 most beneficial areas of use indicated were: mobile convergence and operational efficiency, clinical and care workflows, patient safety, health personnel safety, operations management and regulatory compliance.

In nursing, mobile devices are seen as a way to improving productivity (giving access to premises or tools when and where required), improving the effectiveness of services (making access to patient data automatic), reduce alarm fatigue and improve efficiency (receive room alarms directly on the mobile device reducing the need to return to the work station, communicate with the patient on the move without necessarily going to the room, search for a colleague to update on a patient's status or retrieve information on the move).

The study also revealed important considerations regarding the characteristics required for devices in the healthcare sector.

Characteristics of the working environment and stresses to which the device is subjected

Whether in a factory or a warehouse, a shop or a hospital ward, most mobile applications for non-office environments require a robust and reinforced device. A normal smartphone is not suitableand no matter how many precautionary measures are taken, the damage will always be more frequent than expected, generating continuous work interruptions and causing significant costs. Most organisations, when considering the risk of damage, opt for a professional device.

In the health sector, thehygiene and sterilisation are another obstacle. Devices must be suitable for disinfection with strong chemicals, and an ordinary smartphone is not designed to withstand this.

Theft risk

The smartphone are desirable and can be easily resold. Professional devices, on the other hand, can be locked so that they have no functional value outside the workplace and have a ruggedised design from which it is clear that they are only intended for work environments. All organisations should always assess the risk of theft or fraud when it comes to choosing a mobile device for their resources.

Professionalism and safety

In several environments it is possible that a bad impression if staff are seen holding a mobile phone instead of being busy helping a user. If, on the other hand, staff are using a business technology, the user is not likely to think they are texting with a family member instead of working. A professional device can also be fully controlled by the administrator so that only business-oriented applications and functionalities. With these devices, an optimal level of data security at company level.

It is clear from the investigation that the professional device designed ad hoc is the best solution for healthcare organisations; however, it must be said that in each reality there are always some resources that work predominantly in the office, either in the workplace or outside. Some need to travel or access business data if they work from home or while travelling: for example, managers and administrators. For these resources, the smartphone is the best choice, especially when integrated into the company's network.




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