Nestled between the rooms of hospitals around the globe, are dens of activity – workstations – that house any number of shared computer terminals and act as a ‘home base’ for time constricted clinicians.

However, tight budgets and resource limitations have led to some clinicians feeling like they spend more time at these stations, viewing patient information and documenting clinical care, than they spend with patients. Can mobile technology improve the situation without significant infrastructure investment?

Whilst access to and sharing of information has become far easier with the advent of the Electronic Health Record, having shared and fixed point access to information has its own challenges.  Accessing and documenting against the record will always be an essential part of healthcare but the streamlining of that work, through mobile access, can help drive down wastage – which frees up time and funds, and alleviates pressures within an organisation.

Many hospitals have limited numbers of computers in a ward, with far greater amounts of clinicians needing them throughout the day. The limited resources can result in bottlenecks during busy periods with clinicians left waiting for their turn; finding other jobs to do while they wait, scribbling notes on spare paper or, at worst, sometimes losing track of what they had already done – which can be problematic at the very least.

There are also numerous anecdotes about clinicians who come in before their shift begins to print out or copy patient information on to paper, allowing them to avoid bottlenecks and have crucial patient information on hand when at the point of care.  While punctuality is, quite obviously, a desirable quality, achieving it through poor infrastructure can impact on work-life balance, lead to poor work satisfaction and impact staff retention. 

The fixed nature of workstations can also be challenging for clinicians within the framework of a modern workplace. Clinicians, like professionals in most industries, want access to information on the go and at the point of care – which is unavailable with fixed terminals. 

On the surface, these issues seem like they’d have an easy fix: installing more computers. However, due to the way many hospitals have been constructed this would negatively impact on another issue – a hospital’s limited internal real estate. 

Cash-strapped hospitals often do not have the funds required to invest in redesigning buildings just to house new technology. So, the efficient use of space is important – which is one of the reasons why leveraging mobile devices through a BYOD policy is becoming a more viable solution.

BYOD uptake, throughout almost all industries, is on the rise and many hospitals already have BYOD policies in place so there is a significant opportunity to harness the benefits of mobile devices. Having a software system that has mobile-connectivity with an emphasis on the real-time access of longitudinal patient records and promoting easier communication would allow workflow time savings, freeing up both clinicians and the shared terminals.             

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