There’s a good chance you may already own one of the most universal health care innovations out there right now: a smartphone and/or tablet. It’s not just for checking your Facebook anymore; these digital devices are highly utilized within the medical world as well. Mobile devices and apps have gone from being novelties into established tools.
In addition to the electronic sounds from imaging equipment and patient monitors often heard in hospitals, the familiar sounds of tapping on screens and dings of text messages from mobile devices have also become part of the environment. More than 80 percent of physicians own and use mobile devices, according to recent surveys.
Is There Anything Out There That Doesn’t Have an App?
Smart device technology has proved particularly useful in the field of radiological imaging, where physicians and technicians are continually looking to implement new technology. A 2011 Jackson & Coker Associates study reported nearly 25 percent of radiologists were already using them clinically. In one instance, a Japanese surgical team used an iPad, wrapped in cling-film to preserve sterility–to provide an image of the surgical procedure in process. These surgeons were able to zoom in and out of images being fed to the device. Others have found apps useful in various ways such as displaying patient imaging studies during surgery, contact patients with referral information, or conduct developmental tests on children.
“Every single one of them is using mobile technology to some extent. It’s a massive trend,” said Jon DeVries, VP of product solutions at Merge Healthcare. “It’s changing the way people practice. Diagnostics are still done at work stations, but it’s changed how they collaborate, form partnerships, and provide care”
What Started As a Trend, Ended as a Need.
“Apps” and “going mobile” were once trendy buzzwords, but now they have been integrated well into the medical practice. The convenient access mobile devices provide has helped foster the spirit of collaboration within the specialty of radiology, allowing radiologists and staff to work together more easily as a clinical care team.
Mobile devices also improve the communication between provider and patient. These devices give them the freedom to come out onto the floor and have face-to-face interactions with colleagues and patients. Mobile technology can even help physician’s stay connected while away from the hospital, keeping the process of patient care flowing.
Stay Cautious and Keep It Safe.
New technologies and applications designed for radiology appear swiftly, making it tempting to explore and adopt new apps or devices as they come onto the market. But be cautious, examine them closely and choose carefully to ensure they are actually meeting your needs. The best strategy is to tell vendors what your policies are regarding HIPAA, and the level of integration you will need.
Another challenge in the use of mobile technology is safety and security. Physicians and health care professionals face more security responsibilities than do other consumers of electronics. According to a 2011 Mobile Technology Survey from the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS), 97 percent of clinicians, including radiologists, access patient data on mobile devices, but only 38 percent of health care organizations actually have policies to regulate how to correctly use these tools. To ensure patient data does not end up in the “wrong hands”, there should be centralized control over devices, especially when employees are using a number of different types of devices.
2013 and Beyond.
So what does the future of digital devices in health care delivery hold for us? If current trends are any indication, you can expect to see mobile technology continuously popping up. As the upcoming generation of physicians is unquestionably more tech savvy, we can expect to see mobile digital devices making its way into practices in some nifty ways. The physician’s office of the future is said to undoubtedly feature greater integration of mobile digital technology.
If you have any questions regarding mobile radiology or radiology equipment, feel free to contact me anytime.