Over the past decade, mobile devices have been changing the way the healthcare industry operates. They have become an integral part of digital healthcare, with most U.S. hospitals implementing them into their daily work, and it’s for a good reason. Handheld mobile devices have a wide variety of applications that are incredibly beneficial in medical environments.
However, some businesses and health care organizations may still not be familiar with these tools. In this article, we’ll discuss how handheld devices revolutionize the health care industry, their most common applications, why they are essential, and what to look for in a handheld computer device.
- The Rise of Mobile Handheld Devices in the Healthcare Industry
- The Benefits of Mobile Devices
- Mobile Device Applications in Healthcare Organizations
- What to Know Before Implementing Handheld Devices in Hospitals
- Handheld Devices: Advancing the Healthcare Industry One Step at a Time
- Finding the Right Device for Your Operation
The Rise of Mobile Handheld Devices in the Health Care Industry
Providing patient care is the number one priority of every country’s health care system. With the rise of technology, more and more devices claiming to help streamline patient care have hit the market. In 2010, 35% of U.S. hospitals relied on telehealth services. According to the same source, that percentage hit a whopping 76% in just seven years. Today, it’s hard to find a hospital that doesn’t use these services daily.
As more hospitals adopt the mobile computer strategy, these multipurpose devices have become an increasingly popular option. The very first mobile computing device was introduced in 2002. In less than 20 years, dozens of devices have been developed with extremely enhanced features.
Today’s most handheld devices feature web searching, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), high-end cameras, sound recorders, and more. Combining those features with robust processors, large memories, and high-resolution screens, makes for an ideal all-in-one device also known as “handheld computers.”
The Benefits of Mobile Devices
What made mobile devices so integral in the healthcare industry is their usability. Most of these devices are small yet feature-packed and help ease clinician workflows. Just a couple of decades ago, hospitals would have had to use cumbersome technologies and tedious paperwork to achieve the efficiency of today’s handheld items.
Improving patient management and clinician communication is especially important today when caregivers are constantly asked to do more with less. To achieve that, there has to be something that makes their job easier. Compared to workstations on wheels, access to information is much more straightforward and doesn’t require dragging a computer everywhere.
Here are some reasons why mobile computers have been gaining popularity across the U.S:
Uses of Mobile Devices in Healthcare
- The “Five Rights.” One recommendation for reducing medical administration errors is to use the “five rights”: the right patient, the right drug, the correct dose, the right route, and the right time. Thanks to handheld devices with advanced tracking features, most clinicians can implement these “rights” effortlessly.
- Image Transmission. With a mobile computer, clinicians can take photos and upload them to the patient’s medical record in a matter of seconds. Just years ago, the whole procedure would have taken much longer. These devices also reduce patient discomfort and make nurses’ jobs easier by photographing a wound before bandaging to avoid unwrapping later for a doctor’s exam.
- Enhanced Mobility. Mobility is a crucial feature of proper health care delivery. Clinicians often work in multiple locations and communicate with colleagues located in another part of the facility. They also must move between clinics, patients, laboratories, and offices. For communication to stay in order, they need a robust information system to access all necessary data.
- Message monitoring. Seeing when a message has been read but not responded to, lets the user reaches out to the unresponsive recipient much faster. This is something not doable with traditional pagers.
- Secure Access. Regular users can’t override the system, and nurses can use the devices on their own. This is especially important when a non-skilled user deals with essential data and risks damaging some of it. Numerous cloud services ensure safe data storage.
Mobile Device Applications in Health Care Organizations
By now, it’s clear why health care workers find these devices convenient, but what are the most common uses? Thanks to advanced technology and its integration with the medical system, more applications start seeing the light of the day.
Their growing popularity has made room for the whole industry of mHealth (Mobile Health) to rise. According to WHO, this industry encompasses medical and public health practices supported by all sorts of wireless mobile devices. Many applications start from patient admission until discharge and make the treatment much more accessible.
Below, we listed some of the most common handheld computer applications.
Patient Data Management
Patient data management is one of the most common areas where errors happen, and it’s where a handheld mobile computer can play a significant role. Important patient documents can easily be transferred from a computer to the device and vice versa.
Other than having access to patient data, clinicians should be able to connect with their colleagues instantly. Instant communication is a must-have to simplify workflows and get meaningful advice on certain patients. A clinician can effortlessly start a video or voice call, text, or e-mail their colleague with mobile computers.
Hospital Information Systems (HISs)
Hospitals use these smart devices to keep track of electronic health records (EHRs), medical records (EMRs), clinical decision support systems (CDSSs), archive pictures and communication systems (PACSs), as well as laboratory information systems (LISs).
Drug information databases (also known as pharmacopeias) are now easily integrated into handheld devices. They include comprehensive drug lists, dosing and drug interaction guidelines, retail prices, side effects, etc. Having a valuable tool like this one in their pocket makes physicians’ jobs much more straightforward and saves a significant amount of time on information retrieval. These lists (such as ePocrates) are constantly updated and available for free download.
Business Intelligence and Management
Mobile devices help monitor the overall condition of a healthcare institution by capturing and tracking data coming from patients, staff, and assets. This information can then optimize the organization’s workflow further, streamline processes, and find weak points.
As for business management applications, these devices help medical staff keep track of their daily activities. This improves business efficacy by enhancing schedule coordination. Thanks to mobile computers, physicians can enter billing information and transfer it to a central database for the office staff review.
Most handheld computers can also be used for research data collection. Some researchers have been using these devices to evaluate cravings and symptom withdrawals of patients who are in smoking cessation programs, for instance. Patients can enter information on their own the moment they feel the symptoms, instead of retroactively telling them to the physician.
This research approach also ensures fewer errors in data entry and is more accurate and faster than hand recording.
Thanks to desktop and handheld device synchronization, physicians or other device users can immediately access a patient’s drug information, including medication lists and dosages. This is an effective way of preventing transcription or dosage errors. This is especially useful for critically ill patients with an increased risk for drug-related problems.
Medical Training and Literature
It has never been more convenient to share informational resources. Guidelines, textbooks, notices, or drug references can find their way to the correct recipient in a matter of seconds. This information exchange makes it much easier for new staff to blend in and pick up on standard practices.
Many healthcare clinics use mobile devices for medical students’ training evaluation to help monitor their clinical experience and ensure they benefit from the teaching. Since there is still a significant resistance among caregivers regarding new technology implementation, exposing students to the new systems is an essential step towards preparing future physicians for innovative technologies.
Mobile computers are a standard tool for patient data transfer and management and are also used for patients suffering from chronic pain. These devices let physicians assess the pain the moment they receive patient complaints. Thanks to their small size and light weight, this sort of data entry can occur at any time.
Handheld devices are a practical tool in family practice to help access important information about the patient outside the hospital. Numerous calculators help physicians assess the patient’s risk of cardiac events, determine body mass, predict peak flows, calculate weight gain in pregnant women, and much more.
One study shows that handheld devices are beneficial in intensive care units. These items can carry much more information than traditional handbooks, although there are no clear advantages of either data collection format. Overall experience with these devices in ICU is that they are convenient and functional.
Handheld computers can be safely used for remote EKG interpretation. Thanks to computer-based technologies and wireless networks, 12-lead EKG waveforms can be sent to health care organizations from remote locations. A study performed by Pettis et al proved this point.
What to Know Before Implementing Handheld Devices in Hospitals?
For mobile computers to operate fully, it’s necessary to have a robust wireless connection across the hospital site. That’s why it’s essential to do an environment site survey before implementing any changes. If not done correctly, clinicians would end up working with malfunctioning mobile computers before dropping them and going back to traditional medical administration tools.
The younger healthcare staff that may be accustomed to dealing with mobile devices will have an easy time making the transition. They can help older colleagues learn their way around the technology.
Another crucial factor in assuring proper implementation and straightforward use is choosing the best device that can satisfy the daily needs of a clinician, nurse, and other users.
How to Choose the Right Handheld Device?
Finding a mobile computer that satisfies only a few needs won’t be enough. Not only do you want a device that will perform great through all applications but it should also be easy to use. Fortunately, many comprehensive solutions come feature-packed and can fit most health care industry needs. Mobile handhelds such as the Sonim RS80 and RS60 are only some of the best all-encompassing devices on the market.
We’ve broken down the eight most essential things to look for when choosing hospital handheld devices.
Features to Look for When Choosing a Device
- Easy to disinfect. Having a device that’s easy to disinfect is crucial in assuring everyone’s safety. The device will most likely be carried on from one pocket to another, and it should be easy to clean before being handed out to colleagues. Devices with resistance to water and chemicals disinfectants are ideal.
- Barcode Scanner. It’s paramount for a mobile computer to have an integrated barcode scanner. This feature is essential in scanning documents, identifying drugs and patients.
- Rugged. A rugged device has a longer lifespan than a traditional smartphone and can withstand drops and rigorous use. It’s also essential the device comes with a glove-friendly touch screen.
- Lightweight. Mobile computers are obviously easier to transport than a workstations on wheels. Still, opting for a lightweight device will only add to its accessibility and enhance handling.
- Strong Network Connection. A 4G or LTE network connection is essential in ensuring seamless, fast communication and device handling. All communication must flow smoothly, and sending pictures and large files will significantly depend on the internet speed. Additionally, emergency workers and first responders will want a device that’s FirstNet compatible.
- Security. Ensuring secure file transmission and communication is essential. That’s why you want to choose a device with a reliable operating system (Android) and only install the verified and secure apps.
- Long battery life. A stable device should be able to make it through the whole shift. That’s why we recommend investing in a device with robust battery life (at least 6.000mpAh).
- Familiar OS. You can find plenty of excellent mobile computers running on Android. Most regular mobile users are used to Android, so ensuring a soft transition will only boost their productivity.
Handheld Devices: Advancing the Health Care Industry One Step at a Time
There’s hardly an industry branch that hasn’t’ benefited from the innovative technology and over the past few decades, the healthcare industry has utterly revolutionized with the emergence of mobile devices.
After reading our article, you should now be familiar with the mobile computer applications and which features to look for when purchasing one for your healthcare organization. If you’re indecisive about choosing a suitable device, you may want to consider Sonim RS60 and RS80, as they offer everything a robust handheld device serving the caregivers should have.
Finding the Right Device for Your Operation
For more information and assistance in choosing the device that best suites your professional needs, reach to Energy Electronics. We are a leading supplier of premium mobile devices and we’d be happy to help with a custom recommendation and quotes for bulk orders.