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Workflow Management

Four steps to successful mobile implementation

Best practices for integrating mobile technology into existing hospital workflows. By Cheryl D. P ark er


t’s no secret that the health information technology (HIT) sector is booming. Industry analysts predict that by the year 2013, revenues will approach $38 billion. Now more than ever, hospitals and health systems both large and small are placing a high priority on expanding their IT systems, and health IT directors want to know more about the value of adding mobile technology (e.g., tablets, PDAs and smartphones) to their current systems. They want to better understand how these devices can enhance the quality of healthcare while increasing efficiencies and reducing costs. Over the past few years, the term “mobile” has become synonymous with “handheld,” which primarily consists of devices for physicians and providers, while mobile computing devices for bedside clinicians, such as nurses, are typically only computing or medica- tion carts. The different models have developed because providers are focused on data con- sumption, while bedside clinicians are responsible for the majority of the data entry.

Cheryl D. Parker, Ph.D., RN-BC, FHIMSS, is chief nursing informatics officer for Rubbermaid Medical Solutions and is a contributing MSN instructor for Walden University. For more on Rubbermaid Medical Solutions:

Despite the differences in how the two groups use the de- vices, mobile technology is gaining wider acceptance because it is having a positive impact on healthcare. In December 2011, the HIMSS inaugural “Mobile Technology Survey” showed that 38 percent of healthcare facilities reported already using handheld devices. Another 51 percent were in the process of developing a mobile technology policy. This is good news, because it means the vast majority of IT leaders are largely onboard with the idea of bringing mo- bile technology to their hospitals and health systems. With that said, it is important for organizations looking to deploy

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mobile technology to have a solid plan for choosing solutions that will integrate seamlessly into existing workflows and patient-care processes.

Four key steps After leadership support has been obtained, the next big piece for completing the mobile technology integration puzzle is project planning. To achieve the best outcome, there are four steps all project leaders should consider, no matter the size of their organizations: • Step 1: Share information among cross-functional teams; • Step 2: Conduct a technology and security needs assess- ment;

• Step 3: Initiate vendor selection, project road mapping and implementation; and

• Step 4: Develop maintenance, contingency and documen- tation plans. Collectively, these key steps are generally viewed as best practices within the industry for successfully integrating mobile technology into any current workflow.

Step 1: Share information among cross-functional teams

The project team will first want to develop a comprehen- sive plan that is compatible with the business requirements of the organization, as well as the specific clinical requirements of end users. There must be an understanding among all the players about each group’s particular needs and objectives for the project. A clear and honest exchange of information across functional teams will go a long way toward accomplish- ing this understanding.

Gathering this information also will help project leaders connect the dots between mission-critical technology re- quirements and real-world clinical-use cases. In other words,


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