By Jenn Riggle
Information is power – especially when it comes to helping people make better decisions about their own health. This explains why health information is one of the most popular subjects people search for online.
The challenge is that while doctors believe that mobile technology and iPads can play a beneficial role in healthcare, software innovation hasn’t kept pace.
Mobile technology has also allowed doctors to bring their iPads to the bedside to share pictures and health data with patients. Manhattan Research reported last May that 30 percent of U.S. doctors now use iPads to access EHRs (electronic health records), view radiology images and communicate with patients.
At the same time, hospitals are spending millions of dollars to move to Electronic Medical Records, such as Epic and Allscripts, but most popular EMRs offer read-only versions for iPads. To get around this, doctors often use Citrix, a Windows-based networking tool; however, this can make it difficult to enter new information.
To further complicate matters, a recent Spyglass Consulting Group reported that 75 percent of physicians report that their hospital IT departments are hesitant to support mobile devices because of security concerns. And there is some validity to their concerns. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that mobile devices are responsible for the majority of data breaches for hospitals.
The problem: More than half of mobile device users don’t use passwords to protect their smartphones and tablets, even though they connect to corporate networks.
This fear of data breaches may also explain why hospitals and physicians are hesitant to embrace cloud computing. Market research firm KLAS Research found that 58 percent of healthcare organizations are considering cloud computing for data storage, yet only 35 percent have project plans and many said they were still leery of the technology.
But things may be changing. AT&T recently hired its first Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO), who will focus on evidence-based medicine, health outcomes, disease management and wellness. And one of the CMIO’s priorities will be to help AT&T and its partners focus on getting EMRs and other systems able to share information.
Do iPads have a place in healthcare? Yes. But, for them to realize their potential, hospital IT departments need to overcome their fears and technology companies need to make connectivity a priority.