Unlocking mobility in healthcare with mobile device access: A Q&A with Clinical Workflow Specialist Claire Reilly RN MSc

Today, Imprivata launched Imprivata Mobile Device Access (MDA), technology that delivers the same fast and familiar authentication workflows to mobile devices that clinicians currently experience on workstations, empowering organizations to unlock the full potential of mobility in healthcare.

Nurses, in particular, feel the pain of having to access shared mobile devices using cumbersome usernames and passwords. These barriers to access slow down the delivery of care and disrupt common workflows. To better understand what streamlined, efficient mobile device access can mean to nurses, we asked our Clinical Workflow Specialist, Claire Reilly, to answer some questions about the use of shared mobile devices and how Imprivata MDA can help hospitals to leverage their investment in this expensive hardware.

Q: Why are shared mobile devices used by clinical staff, especially nurses? Why don’t staffers use their own devices all the time?

Claire: Because the nurse’s change, i.e. shifts changes, they change assignments during a shift which may or may not include a location and there are multiple people using different devices at different times during a 24-hour period. BYOD is obviously tarnished with its own challenges—security being the number one. With BYOD there has to be some kind of mobile device management in between the device, and the hospitals can’t control the network. So shared mobile devices provide convenience and efficiency, and a little bit of the control aspect on security side and the cost side.

Q: Are there any other reasons besides security and cost that mobile shared devices are starting to take off more?

Claire: Convenience. The role of the workforce is getting greater and the workforce is perceived to be less. Patients expect a fast and efficient hospital experience. With hospitals being held accountable for appropriate reimbursement under Medicaid and Medicare, for example, there’s a lot of metrics that are driving a faster, efficient turnaround of patients in and out of healthcare facilities. Whether it’s doctor’s offices, in-patient facilities, emergency rooms, etc., the metrics are big drivers, and make efficiency an absolute must.

Q: Why do nurses in particular tend to seem to use shared devices more than anyone else in the hospital?

Claire: Because the nurses touch the patients more than anyone else in the hospital. There’s lots of touch points—lots of task orientated roles —that nurses have to do around one patient. For example, vital signs, medications, ADLS’s (which are the activities of daily living’s) and mobilizing the patient. There are multiple tasks required from a nurse to patient perspective, and then nurses are moving from room to room, maybe even locations, or seeing two or three or four patients in a pod-type setup. So being mobile and being agile and without running back and forth to a desktop or a central location are imperative in the daily life of a nurse.

Q: What are some examples of specific workflow barriers that are introduced by the need for security on shared mobile devices?

Claire: Not having desktops in all of the patient’s rooms, not having access to desktops—just the general lack of desktops—so the mobile devices make it much more efficient and durable. What we see very commonly, as for example with the Rover, which is an EPIC mobile device, is the fat-finger typing. That’s why we see them docked at stations. If we can access them more efficiently, a badge tap in and out which Imprivata now enables, it then increases our ability to be mobile and efficient. So the biggest barrier to using it right now is to accessing it with the username and password. But it’s the accessing it that is the biggest stumbling block to using it, from a mobile perspective.

Q: Do you see any advantages that devices that are purpose-built for healthcare instead of those that are used across industries?

Claire: I think healthcare is a unique industry unlike any in Corporate America. Healthcare provides the same services with subtle nuances all around the world. You have to administer medications, you have to take vital signs, and you have to do ADLS, all of these are geared specifically towards healthcare. I think it’s great that companies like Zebra are coming to the table with consistent access and user-friendly abilities on these mobile devices. As I mentioned, nursing is task-oriented, so nurses go through their tasks and they’re repeated in a ‘rinse-and-repeat cycle’ throughout healthcare with subtle nuances depending on the specialty you’re in. Healthcare is all about very similar behaviors, tactics, and delivery of care around the world.

Q: What are the biggest issues with unlocking mobility in healthcare, and how do you think that Imprivata MDA will help healthcare make an easier shift towards getting more mobile?

Claire: The biggest obstacle is usernames and passwords. Now with Imprivata, we have the ability to tap in, pass credentials through, and get straight to using the mobile device. Similar to a desktop, but with a mobile device it’s obviously much smaller which offers an instant win. So it’s a challenge, and therefore the devices just don’t get utilized. But now that we can access them in a timelier fashion, there will be a much bigger demand in usage of them from a nursing perspective. And even when we look at, not just the mobile devices, but access into medical devices period, if we can tap in, and get that access into them, tap out to secure them when we are finished, this is what will drive adoption of all of these devices.

Let’s be honest, thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars are spent on mobile devices by healthcare organizations, and we all know they sit there and collect dust. But easy access, transparent access, is the way forward, and the way for hospitals to actually capitalize on their investment in these devices.

Q: In what ways does Imprivata’s work with mobile devices parallel the company’s earlier work helping shift the industry to EMRs?

Claire: We now have the fast, efficient, and secure access into EMRs, so if we can have that same access into mobile devices, then we have a streamlined approach and therefore can drive adoption. The next iteration, if we look at patients access in from mobile devices into their My Portal, where they put their data in before coming to various access points at healthcare facilities, accessing into those more seamlessly would be a great iteration, obviously not with a tap, but with some sort of portal connection to connect securely within their healthcare portal. Overall, it’s easy access from the healthcare provider perspective: “If I can get into it easier, I’m gonna use it.” “If it’s simple and it serves me good, I’m gonna use it.” And in turn, it’s the patient satisfaction, because right now what happens is, if I can’t access a device at the patient’s bedside, I revert to using paper and pen, and transcribe this when I get to a desktop, which drives the increased possibility of documenting in the wrong chart about the wrong patient — a disservice to any patient. The face to face interaction time is decreased, it decreases patient satisfaction and family and loved one’s satisfaction as well.

Moving forward I would like to see a world where patients from their home environment use, obviously not a tap, but some sort of a streamlined approach to mimic clinical access, so that we streamline all access into all these electronic gadgets. And, if you look at the healthcare workforce today, 50% of them are age 50 and over. That means that 50% of the workforce today and the workforce coming in are younger than 50 years of age, and they’re growing up in this millennial world where everything is technical. So, we need to look forward and look at what our world is going to look like in the next 2, 4, 5, 10 years. And we need to think about mimicking the social media world we where we see Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all of those social platforms that keep us connected quite seamlessly.

Technology is meant to enhance patient care, whoever is providing that patient care. It’s not meant to be a barrier, so anything that we can do to streamline access into it, to get clean, sterile data from patients from the onset through one reciprocity where it stays together and we can access if from anywhere as a provider. That is the way forward.