Mobile health monitoring
The pandemic led to a significant increase in workloads at a number of hospitals across Australia with a massive influx of patients, forcing hospitals to quickly improve the speed and efficiency of their workflows.
The medical technology industry provides a wide range of products to diagnose, monitor and treat patients, and is instrumental in helping healthcare organisations to achieve better patient outcomes, lower healthcare costs, improve efficiencies and offer better patient care. New regulations, digitisation, data analytics, artificial intelligence, automation and the development of value-based healthcare represent some of the numerous challenges as well as opportunities facing the healthcare industry and its use of mobile devices.
Healthcare providers have used mobile technology for some time, including handheld computers and point-of-care devices that help clinicians as they provide bedside care. These mobile medical devices, which are often wheeled around on a trolley to each patient, improve accuracy by reducing the need to enter patient information manually. They enable healthcare workers to connect with patient records and simplify the workflow for collecting specimens.
Mobile devices have improved the speed and quality of care in many valuable ways. For example, during shift changes, information about patients may often be lost in the transition from one team to the next. However, mobile devices make it easier for clinicians to record details and share them with other medical colleagues, which is better for the patient as they do not have to explain things to the next clinician on duty.
The Internet of Medical Things
Whilst the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) has improved the speed, quality and interconnectivity of health care in many ways, mobile devices deployed in healthcare settings need to be carefully monitored to ensure they do not stop working in the middle of clinical rounds and cause disruption to patient care delivery.
The IoMT brings together people (patients, caregivers and clinicians), data (patient or performance data), processes (care delivery and patient support) and enablers (connected medical devices and mobile applications) to deliver improved patient outcomes efficiently.
However, with increased digitisation and interconnectivity comes complexity and hospital IT departments need to ensure that technology issues do not get in the way of the medical staff delivering essential frontline care. Digitalisation in the healthcare sector is not only about helping patients with their illnesses or doctors with their tasks. It also accelerates workflows, enhances security for medical staff and hospitals and provides more transparency for patients.
The digitisation of health care has led to medical devices and the traditional IT infrastructure becoming more and more intertwined. This subsequently means that medical IT has more points of failure than ever before.
The sudden impact of the pandemic on healthcare providers led many to engage in massive adoption campaigns of mobile devices that required precise provisioning before use. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions simplified the ability of hospitals to deliver devices to users with the necessary software already installed while ensuring that security configurations met the healthcare organisation’s privacy compliance requirements.
These capabilities have allowed healthcare organisations to pivot quickly in the face of the pandemic, whilst minimising the security risks of rapid adoption. However, with the influx of many new mobile devices comes an increasing need to ensure that they are working correctly. A centralised monitoring strategy is the best way to achieve this where a healthcare organisation monitors medical equipment and classic IT together.
Mobile medical devices usually require batteries to operate, and a technology support person needs to replace or recharge these devices. Should a device lose power during care delivery, it would be very disruptive for clinical staff and patients. Therefore, these devices need to be remotely monitored so that technical staff can schedule battery replacements before they run out.
Medical equipment has a specified time before preventative maintenance is required. If the equipment is old it might need servicing more often because it has become unreliable, or spare parts might not be readily available. In this case, replacement may be required and this maintenance and replacement lifecycle of the medical devices should be monitored remotely and scheduled so that it does not impact clinical delivery.
Technology can and does go wrong and therefore it is important that a healthcare organisation’s relevant technical team is alerted to any potential issues occurring with a mobile medical device before it becomes a potential problem. Notifications will be sent to the appropriate technical team to take precautionary action to avoid any impact on patient delivery.
As healthcare organisations race to stay ahead of the impacts of the pandemic, care has truly become mobile. These nimble strategies are helping address pandemic challenges while keeping both patients and medical teams safer.
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