Many elements of clinical practice have changed due to healthcare providers (HCPs) usage of mobile devices. The prevalence of smartphones in healthcare environments has sped up the creation of medical software applications (apps) on these platforms. HCPs may now use various applications to help them with many crucial duties, including time management, information collection, patient records accessibility and management, interaction, consultation, management of medical, healthcare decisions, and medical development and skills.
HCPs may benefit from mobile devices and applications in various ways. Still, increasing access to point-of-care tools—which has been demonstrated to promote better clinical decision-making and improved patient outcomes—may be the essential advantage. Some HCPs are still hesitant to use them, however. Despite their benefits, enhanced standards and validation procedures for mobile medical applications need to be created to guarantee the correct use and incorporation of these ever-more complex instruments into medical practice. These actions will make it more challenging to enter the market for medical applications, improving the apps that are already accessible for HCPs to utilize in terms of quality and safety.
Types and Frequency of Used Devices
The advent of mobile operating systems, including smartphones and tablets (PDAs), smartphones, and tablet computers, has significantly influenced various industries, including medical. With pagers, cellphones, and PDAs, health care personnel increasingly utilize smartphones or tablets to do tasks. Smartphones and tablets provide convenient access and usage at the point of care by combining computer and communication functionalities in a single device that may be carried in hand or kept in a pocket. New mobile device models provide increasingly sophisticated functionality, such as online searching, GPS, high-quality cameras, sound recorders, and voice and text. Mobile devices have effectively evolved into portable computers thanks to these characteristics, as well as robust processors and operating systems, ample storage, and high-resolution displays.
The Blackberry, originally made available in 2002, was the first mobile device with computer and communication capabilities. Other portable mobile devices were released after Blackberry hit the market. The first-generation iPhone was introduced by Apple in January 2007—possibly most memorably. Then, in October 2008, smartphones with the Google Android operating system were released. Mobile device ownership has quickly expanded due to the user-friendly touch-screen interfaces and cutting-edge features and capabilities that iPhone and Android smartphones provide. The iPad tablet computer was a brand-new invention from Apple that was released in April 2010. It was yet another revolutionary computing tool due to its mobility, simplicity of use, and relatively big screen. The iPad sparked the growth of tablet computers. Later the same year, Google Android-powered tablets (Samsung Galaxy, among others) were introduced, further boosting the popularity of these mobile devices.
The availability of mobile devices has unquestionably had a significant impact on several areas, including medicine. The fact that a large percentage of HCPs possess these tools and utilize them for both clinical practice and educational purposes is clear from several studies of HCPs. For HCPs who need quick access to information at the point of treatment, smartphones and tablets have even supplanted desktop computers as the preferable computing devices.
Eighty-seven percent of physicians use a smartphone or tablet at work, compared to 99 percent who use a computer, according to the Manhattan Research/Physician Channel Adoption Study conducted in June 2012. According to surveys, most doctors who don’t use an iPhone use Android devices. Fifty-four percent of physicians who utilize tablets in their offices have one, and according to estimates that 66 percent of doctors possess one. It’s interesting to note that even though 80% of doctors 55 and older own a smartphone, the popularity of mobile devices does not increase with age. A study of medical school teachers, residents, and students revealed similar findings that highlight the widespread usage of mobile devices by HCPs. The study’s findings revealed that, across a range of therapeutic settings, from schools to hospitals, 85%, 90%, and 85% of respondents utilize mobile devices.
Mobile devices at the point of care are necessary
The need for enhanced step communications and material resources has been a critical factor in HCPs’ extensive usage of mobile devices. HCPs should ideally have access to various materials in a clinical context. These resources were previously mostly offered by stationary computers, which do not serve the demand for mobility in healthcare settings. This is because stationary computers are not designed to enable mobility. Some healthcare settings have portable, wireless mobile information stations like Computers on Wheels (COWs) or Workstations on Wheels installed to meet this demand (WOWs). Thanks to this, clinicians now have access to a wealth of information at their fingertips because of the availability of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
The 2012 Manhattan Research/Physician Channel Adoption Study findings outlined how HCPs use mobile devices. The majority of HCPs (98%) used desktops or laptops, followed by tablets (63%) and cellphones (56%) for their most common activity, which was searching. Searching again takes up most of the smartphone time for physicians, accounting for 48% of all phone use, followed by professional applications at 38%. Additionally, it was shown that doctors watched online videos for work on desktops/laptops (67%), continuing medical education (CME) activities (55%), tablets (29%) and smartphones (13%). Physicians spent an average of three hours each week doing this. In the medical school HCPs and students survey, mobile devices were also frequently used for clinical purposes, with 85% of respondents reporting doing so at least once a day. These uses were often for time management, information gathering, patient care and education communication.
How Health Care Professionals Utilize Mobile Apps and Devices
Healthcare workers use medical gadgets and applications for a variety of tasks, the majority of which fall into one of five general categories: administration, health record upkeep and access, communications and consultation, reference and information collection, and medical education. Above we covered the many applications for mobile devices as well as the various kinds of medical apps that fit into these categories.
Time and Information Management
Information and time management on mobile devices is among HCPs’ most popular applications. Using tools like Evernote and Notability, users of well-known information management tools may write or dictate notes, record audio, save images, and categorize content inside a searchable electronic database. Users may peruse, underline, highlight, expand, and annotate text in PDF files using e-book reader programs like Good Reader and I Annotate.
Information management may benefit from cloud-based storage and file-sharing services that can be accessed through a mobile device since they enable users to save, update, and share documents or photos with others without using a flash drive or CD. Users often get a few megabytes of memory from cloud storage systems for free; extra capacity frequently necessitates the purchase of an annual membership. People working together may swiftly exchange materials thanks to the added benefit of fast access to information from various devices thanks to cloud-based information storage.
Several gadgets may utilize Dropbox, a well-liked cloud storage service. Managing, sharing, and uploading files using Google Docs is also possible with Google Drive. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system powers SkyDrive, a cloud-based storage solution that works with mobile devices. The cloud storage platform Box is said to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. It should be highlighted that specific cloud-based storage systems are not compliant and may not be appropriate for keeping or transferring patient information. An Internet connection is required for access to cloud-based storage services. However, data may be stored in the internal memory of a mobile device for usage when the device is not connected to the Internet.
The popular cloud storage service Dropbox may be used with various devices. With Google Drive, you can also manage, share, and upload files using Google Docs. SkyDrive, a mobile-friendly cloud-based storage service, is run by Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act are reported to be followed by the cloud storage service Box. It is important to note that specific cloud-based storage solutions are not compliant and, as a consequence, may not be suitable for storing or transmitting patient information. Although data may be saved to a mobile device’s internal memory for use when the device is not connected to the Internet, an Internet connection is necessary to utilize cloud-based storage services.
HCPs often use apps for mobile devices for time management. The native applications pre-installed on portable devices are usually adequate to manage and keep track of appointments, meetings, call schedules, and other therapeutic duties. Thus this does not call for an amazing app. iPhone, iPhone, and Blackberry applications like ZocDoc let users read details about and schedule appointments with collaborating providers.
Access to and maintenance of health records
Other apps for health record maintenance and access facilitate data gathering and retrievals, such as data entry into a patient’s EHR or EMR. Hospital information systems often provide capabilities that let HCPs administer EHRs and PACSs, enabling secure on-site or remote access to patient data (medical history, vital signs, prescriptions, lab results, x-rays, scans, consultations, and discharge notes).
Epic Systems, a healthcare software provider, collaborated with Apple to create scheduling, billing, and clinical support apps for iPhone and iPad. Physicians may obtain patient clinical data with PatientKeeper Mobile Clinical Results on either Apple or Android mobile devices. An all-purpose record maintenance and access tool called Teamviewer may be downloaded and installed on mobile devices to provide remote access to desktop PCs. In the absence of such applications, getting a virtual private network (VPN) log-in from the hospital is often possible, allowing secure remote access into the internal network over the Internet to see records for emergency consultations.
When users are unable to reach imaging workstations, Mobile MIM, a free app for the iPad and iPhone, enables remote viewing of x-rays and imaging scans. It has been certified by the Food and Drug Administration. This program utilizes MIMCloud, a HIPAA-compliant server that enables users to save and exchange medical photos, with a paid membership or pay-per-use plan. The cloud-based images may be downloaded and seen anywhere using the premium MIMViewer app, whether it’s for team meetings or patient consultations. Medical imaging scans may also be seen remotely using specialized applications.
In some instances, it has been shown that evaluating image scans remotely using a medical device is equally as successful as a regular workstation. One team showed that its members could detect acute stroke on CT brain scans using their iPhones exactly as precisely as when a workstation was utilized. The cameras on mobile devices may also be used to take photographs of pathology specimens, either for personal use or to acquire a colleague’s perspective, to help with diagnosis.
Advising and Information exchange
Health care systems may span a wide geographic area and include various facilities, including clinics, inpatient wards, outpatient services, emergency rooms, operating rooms, critical care units, and laboratories. Therefore, in addition to being mobile themselves, HCPs also need to be able to communicate and work with those who are dispersed. Mobile devices meet this demand by providing a variety of communication channels, such as text, email, and multimedia messaging; phone and video calling; and video conferencing. For mobile devices, there are apps available for clinical communication that is meant to streamline clinician communication.
It has been shown that mobile devices enhance communication between HCPs and their coworkers. One research found that mobile devices helped physicians and nurses on inpatient units communicate better. In a study of HCPs and students in medical schools, more than 80% of participants reported utilizing mobile devices to interact with coworkers regarding patient care over the phone, via text message, and by email. They claimed texting was more effective than phone calls or face-to-face meetings. Mobile devices also provide quick email responses, enabling consumers to stay in touch. It has also been shown that texting or phoning coworkers directly on their mobile devices may help save crucial time in emergencies instead of paying them. HCPs may also utilize mobile devices to help patients who live far away by enabling them to text or share photographs of their issues or inquiries.
Social media platforms may help HCPs communicate, collaborate, and seek advice from one another. Doximity is a social networking service that complies with HIPAA regulations and has been called “Facebook for physicians.” A prospective user’s credentials must be verified against a database of medical licenses to register on Doximity. Once enrolled, doctors may text patient-related information to peers from medical school, residency, or other places to network. A “nondisclosed” platform for consultations, talks, and mini-lectures among infectious disease doctors and certified university professors has purportedly been established using Facebook. Such forums may provide a practical and effective way for medical professionals to quickly and effectively discuss thoughts. During consultations, extensive information may be sent using messaging applications that offer text messaging and picture sharing. It should be emphasized that much other social networking and messaging applications, including Facebook, are not HIPAA compliant.
Medical training and education
Due to increased technology usage by students and institutions throughout training, mobile devices are becoming more and more significant in medical education. Health care students utilize their mobile devices in several ways, including keeping track of their experiences, acquiring knowledge about diseases and pharmacological therapies, conducting computations, and taking simple notes.
For fast, convenient access to the knowledge they need to excel in their studies and jobs, health care students are increasingly using mobile devices as a “pocket brain.” Because they allow for “learn anywhere” access to material or double-checking of knowledge, mobile devices have become omnipresent in educational environments. Among the tools that health care students commonly utilize are online textbooks and lectures, medical podcasts, medical calculators, and search engines to seek new terminology. Numerous mobile applications for health care students may also be used for knowledge testing, such as tests or quizzes to assist you in studying for board exams or case study quizzes. It has been shown that having access to all of these materials improves students’ clinical learning and knowledge test results.
HCPs in practice also utilize mobile devices for education, particularly for CME activities that keep them up to date on the latest scientific knowledge and medical procedures. A mobile CME app from QuantiaMD offers well-written interactive case studies that may be distributed among colleagues. According to medical school teachers, residents, and students study, utilizing a mobile device for quick access to educational materials while on the road had a good educational impact in 75 percent, 95 percent, and 55 percent of the cases, respectively.
Already essential tools for HCPs, medical devices and apps are anticipated to be integrated into every facet of clinical practice as their functionality and applications grow. Some HCPs are still hesitant to employ them in clinical practice, however. Medical applications and gadgets unquestionably provide the HCP many benefits, but they are presently being utilized without complete awareness of the dangers and rewards that go along with them. To guarantee a basic level of quality and safety when these instruments are employed, careful examination, validation, and the formulation of best-practice standards are essential. With the adoption of such steps, the primary determining factor of an app’s worth May eventually be its capacity to provide the end user with relevant, precise, and timely information and assistance to enhance patient outcomes.
Before his famous writing career, Zack was a tech-freak and got his relative degree from a renowned university in the USA. Right from childhood, he was interested in opening up toys and replacing their pieces of machinery. Zack received an award for best robot prototype in high school. Later, he merged his tech passion with his writing skills and began writing for different tech blogs. Also, he is a professional swimmer who loves diving into life’s colors.