Healthcare IT has emerged as a driving force in bringing about better patient care, and mobility is a key component. Mobility in the healthcare world is unique: clinicians roam from one shared workstation to another, use their tablets on rounds, check data on personal smartphones, and work on home computers. They may need to access clinical systems and vital patient data on any system at any time. The benefits of mobility, however, bring substantial requirements for IT, especially as healthcare entities are becoming more open to adopting cloud computing.
With a critical job at hand, clinicians require easy access to clinical apps and patient data. They want their user experiences to be consistent and familiar on a variety of devices. This means ensuring constant data protection, privacy of protected health information (PHI), and compliance with regulations that govern the use of information and the delivery quality of patient care.
IT environments are becoming more complex by the day, and institutions are always looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. The good news is that, if implemented right, mobility can deliver on-demand data, applications, and desktops to any device over any network, and maintain security, compliance, and control. This implementation can lead to significant time savings for clinicians and can reduce costs while making life easier for IT.
The adoption of certain steps by healthcare organisations can help provide a rational path to plan, define, and roll out a mobility initiative. This will not only help reap benefits today but also in the future.
Embrace industry best practices
Mobility management in healthcare used to mean simply controlling devices; now it's about controlling the apps and data that healthcare professionals need to access around the hospital. Defining policies around patient data and app management require early engagement and buying from a variety of stakeholders. Policies need to address clinician demands without impacting an organisation's security posture.
Today's IT environments also include cloud technologies and complementary third-party solutions, which means there is a lot to manage and integrate. It's important to partner with vendors that can help you at any stage of the cloud journey - and with those who have a large ecosystem of partners with whom they work continually.
Define your technology strategy
In healthcare, when defining one's technology strategy, it is crucial that the selected software vendor has a proven track record in enabling clinician mobility. He should be able to partner with you regardless of your stage in the cloud journey. Additionally, the technology offered should not impact IT control and security. Effective clinician mobility enablement requires many capabilities: desktop and application virtualisation, file sharing, cloud computing and cloud networking, mobility management, and more. Best practices indicate you should look to solutions that provide persistent data and app availability, ensure secure user-friendly mobility, and - with a minimum effort on your part - deliver a consistent, familiar and reliable user experience on any device.
Select technologies to provide around the clock app and data availability
Centralised management and delivery of clinical applications, such as electronic health records (EHRs), medical imaging applications and legacy applicationsk, can be addressed through app and desktop virtualisation and/or cloud computing. IT can provide seamless, instant access to clinical tools while increasing security. Look for solutions that provide a high-quality experience through real-time network and performance optimisation, with proven scalability, that are quick to deploy and easy to use. A people-centric approach gives clinicians and healthcare users secure access to apps and data stored in multiple storage zones and promotes user satisfaction by offering a single common interface on any device.
Select technologies that provide IT flexibility and control
Healthcare is an industry undergoing constant growth: multi-facility organisations, new facilities and groups, mergers, acquisitions, telemedicine, and more, serve to extend the perimeter and enlarge the user base. To ensure that everyone has access to data and applications, look to secure cloud networking and a frontend that provides granular context-aware policy controls for virtual applications and client resources. A gateway that provides secure remote access should use SSL for all network traffic and include session recording for compliance and advanced troubleshooting.
Select technologies to ensure secure, user-friendly mobility
Some users need more than Windows apps on devices: they want to use native mobile apps alone or in conjunction with corporate apps. Some prefer or are required to use their own devices. Some even want to mix work-related mobile apps with personal apps on the same device. Your mobility management policy, technology, and security strategy may need to address all these variants. The technology chosen should separate corporate apps and data from personal content and provide end-to-end control and protection.
Bring it all together for a successful rollout
A critical final step is to develop and implement a rollout plan, including architecting the solution and onboarding users. On the architecture side, a solution that cost-effectively bundles technologies into a complete and integrated solution is the best option. For user onboarding, in parallel with determining the underlying architecture, one will need to create resources that make it simple for stakeholders to learn what they need to get started. For mobile users, this should include setting up enrolment procedures, providing tools that enable self-provisioning and establishing support, and maintenance levels.
The above-mentioned steps can not only help lead to a successful healthcare mobility initiative but also result in impressive results. When physicians have seamless, quick access to vital data, they have more time for patient interaction. When IT plans, engages stakeholders, and chooses the right technology, it results in quicker implementation, reduced complexity, and even significant cost savings.
(The author is Area Vice President, Sales & Services, India Sub-continent, Citrix)