Health Care IT Departments Must Adopt Mobile Strategies: CSC

As physicians use mobile devices in large numbers, IT departments at health care organizations need a strategy to support them, according to a new CSC report.

CSC, an IT integrator and cloud-service provider, has released a new report suggesting that health care IT departments should act fast to support the mobile devices that physicians are using.
Doctors are adopting smartphones at more than twice the rate of the general population, according to CSC's report, called "Harnessing the Value of mHealth for Your Organization." More than 17,000 health care apps are available for smartphones, the company said.
"Adoption is greater than anyone thought in health care," Fran Turisco, CSC research principal and author of the report, told eWEEK.
With doctors in hospitals using the phones, they're influencing the mobile choices made by IT departments, according to Turisco.
In fact, 81 percent of physicians now use smartphones and 75 percent of the doctors prefer Apple mobile devices, Manhattan Research reports.
"The adoption is there, the software is there-what we're seeing is the end users pushing it to the IT people," Turisco said. "These need to be part of our offerings for all of our physicians, our nurses, so it's really a sea change for a lot of the IT folks in the hospital."
Although doctors and clinicians have been using laptops, tablets and other mobile devices for about 10 years, health care IT departments need to follow how other industries approach mobile technology, establish policies and support mobile devices, Turisco suggested. CIOs need to integrate mobile devices with IT systems, a capability that physicians are requesting, she said.
Under a "time-boxed" approach, health care organizations should establish a road map and complete their strategy within two to four months, according to Turisco. In reality, IT departments take eight to 16 months to implement mobile strategies, she added.
"A strategy, which can be developed in two to four months, establishes the platform for major decisions regarding governance, priority setting, device management and security, and identifies the first projects that are high priority, address immediate needs and are feasible in a short time ('low-hanging fruit')," the report states.
Features in smartphones such as cameras, GPS, video and wireless technology such as Bluetooth can give a boost to health care, Turisco said. Mobile devices allow for telemedicine sessions between doctors and patients, particularly when they're unable to travel or live in remote, rural areas.
Doctors are also implementing mobile devices to monitor vital signs and chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
In the report, CSC outlines use cases for mobile technology in health care such as diagnostic testing and ordering medication refills.
One diagnostic tool called MobiSante MobiUS fits into doctors' lab coats and allows them to snap quick images and share them with other medical professionals to make a quick diagnosis.
Doctors can also use the GPS technology in phones for community health tasks, like tracking when and where people use asthma inhalers. The software developer Asthmapolis makes mobile apps that allow researchers to examine patterns of asthma in various locations, such as rural areas or where pollution exists.