Realizing the Mobile Future of Senior Care

Realizing the Mobile Future of Senior Care

By Mark McIntyre, EVP & GM, CareWorx

We are a mobile society. In our personal lives and at work – we communicate largely by mobile means. We have access to the info we need and want, on-the-go, wherever we are. But is this true in healthcare and more specifically in senior care?

The Mobility Dream

We know the benefits of using electronic health records vs. paper. Better, more accurate data gathering and management, and the potential for sharing across health institutions in the continuum of care – all ultimately benefiting the patient or resident in the form of better care.

Mobility is a layer above EHR – representing the promise of even greater productivity, immediate access to information, and efficiency of on-the-spot data gathering and sharing for staff that deliver care.

So why isn’t everyone doing it already?

Senior care has traditionally been slower to adopt technology than consumers in general and other business sectors. There are a few key reasons for that:

  • Strategy – Technology planning is often not incorporated into higher level strategic planning (although I would argue it should be)
  • Budget – Budget constraints are very real and technology isn’t always seen as top of the priority list.
  • Care vs. Innovation – Healthcare in general is in the business of caring – and not in the business of actively seeking innovation. That is slowly changing as technology becomes a game-changer that could dictate the survival of some senior care communities. (Enabling much-needed efficiency in skilled nursing remaining competitive in senior living)
  • Questions About Security – Safeguarding patient/resident data is critically important. Not everyone trusts technology (mobile tech especially) when it comes to guaranteeing data security. There is also a fear that devices not bolted down may get lost, misplaced or stolen.
  • Infrastructure Challenges – Many senior care communities have lagged in ensuring the technology basics are covered – things like adequate networks that are the critical building blocks of technology success.
  • Resistance – Many in the workforce have not embraced technology and its potential. A team not on board or comfortable with tech makes technology adoption a challenge.

The Opportunities

So there are challenges, but going mobile is something the senior care community can no longer ignore. I guarantee that your competitors are considering it.

  • The opportunities for better, more accurate data gathering are there
  • Mobile devices allow for efficiency and productivity gains
  • The millennial workforce that may help with recruitment issues, expects mobile technology to be a natural part of their work life

Making the Dream a Reality – the Mobile-Readiness Checklist

The following  checklist will help you determine if you are ready to successfully make the leap to mobile devices for care delivery:

  • Wi-Fi: Is your current Wi-Fi setup sufficient and can it handle extra capacity?
  • Devices: Have you figured out what best suits your needs? How will staff be using the devices? How will they carry them? You do have choices when it comes to mobile devices: medical grade vs. beefed up consumer devices like iPads? Tablets or phones?
  • Security: Have you considered what kind of security measures you need to ensure data privacy as well as device security itself?
  • Support: What kind of technical support will you need for new mobile devices? Can your internal IT department handle additional load?
  • Policy: Have you developed a mobile device acceptable use policy? What restrictions or safeguards do you need to put on mobile devices used for care delivery? Is BYOD a consideration and if so, have you studied the pros and cons?
  • Training: What is your short-term training plan for staff, so your launch goes smoothly? What kind of regular training do you have planned going forward to ensure staff is comfortable with new devices and applications?

Lots to consider. But as factors like cost savings/efficiency, data accuracy and standardization, and innovative approaches to common issues  become increasingly critical, the move to mobile is becoming less a dream and more a necessity that should be considered.

Want more info on going mobile in Senior Care? Talk to CareWorx about getting there affordably and successfully.