As mobile technology becomes even more prevalent, your hospital will need to create clear strategies and written policies governing how it should be used within your facility and by your staff. If your organization doesn’t have anything set in stone, you may want to change that.
More than half of hospitals have documented mobile strategies, according to Spok’s 2018 Mobile Strategies in Healthcare Survey.
An effective strategy that promotes mobile usage in your hospital can improve patient care and satisfaction. But, as you well know, there are also security risks to any form of mobile communication.
Comprehensive mobile communication policies should include guidance on major topics like security and management, device selection, integration with your electronic health record (EHR) system, infrastructure assessment and clinical workflow evaluation.
But policies are only as good as their enforcement, which means you’ll need to decide which teams will be in charge of disciplining violators. In hospitals that already have mobile strategies, enforcement is usually split between security, telecommunications and clinical informatics teams.
Addressing mobile barriers
There are certain obstacles that may come into play when workers use mobile devices to communicate with other staff, and these roadblocks may need to be addressed in your mobile policy.
The most common issue?
Infrastructure challenges relating to Wi-Fi and cell coverage. Using smartphones to communicate across the facility is all well and good, but if there are areas where the internet connection is spotty or calls won’t connect, the usefulness of those devices is limited.
Fifty-three percent of respondents to the Spok survey said their hospitals have areas of poor Wi-Fi coverage, and 51% said there are areas of poor cell coverage.
Have your IT department look at where those areas are and discuss ways to fix them. You can also bring in outside IT consultants to help root out any issues.
Your policy should also address data security concerns and make those a priority, since many of these devices may be transmitting private health info, and breaches would cause significant problems.
It’s a good idea to host regular training sessions on the mobile policy and data security measures employees should be taking, such as never sharing passwords. Although it takes a little extra time and effort to organize, training could be the difference between a serious security breach and smooth sailing with mobile use.
For those that already have mobile policies in place, there’s always room for improvement, especially with connectivity. Encourage your IT department to map and upgrade routers, and install additional access points for Wi-Fi.
Finally, you should consistently review your mobile policy to ensure your hospital is as protected and up to date as possible.