Healthcare organizations are widely embracing mobile clinical communications technologies to improve care team collaboration, workflow efficiencies and, ultimately, patient care. But the adoption journey has often been bumpy. Si Luo, CEO of San Diego-based PatientSafe Solutions, explains what the market is seeking: a more effective clinical communications platform for today and tomorrow.
What trends do you see in the mobile clinical communications?
The market is moving toward a deeper and broader understanding of the need for a unified platform that goes well beyond basic secured messaging, voice and alerts. Hospitals and health systems are looking for the ability to connect providers across inpatient and outpatient settings, and for more integration with, and impact on, clinical workflows.
What are the biggest pain points for health systems today when it comes to mobile clinical communications?
Fragmentation, ad hoc deployments and the lack of true workflow integration. We see fragmentation in the proliferation of single purpose devices and separate mobile apps deployed across varying clinical roles, departments and settings. They’re costly for IT to manage, and burdensome for end users ― multiple devices and apps to use ― and they still can’t reach the entire care team efficiently or safely to complete care workflows. This fragmentation is exacerbated by system deployments that lack enterprise-wide consideration of workflow impact, resulting in departments and user groups with disparate, single-purpose solutions that aren’t integrated. It’s clear that all point-solutions in the clinical communication category were chosen with the best of intentions — the most important being the ability to make workflow more efficient. However, not taking a more systematic, interdisciplinary approach has resulted in suboptimal integration with workflow and leaves gaps for the care team. We talk to many health systems that struggle with that fact that after all of their investment in secured messaging, frontline users’ feedback is that workflow simply isn’t integrated in the way they envisioned.
Further, secured messaging-only solutions don’t provide the voice and telephony integration, the reliability, nor the availability that “in building” staff rely on to effectively collaborate on care. As soon as you consider that threshold in the enterprise, having separate systems — one for texting, one for calls and another for alerts as well as a different set for high frequency but short-duration workflows — prompts proliferation to grow quickly, and fragmentation becomes a main issue IT leadership must solve, especially in an increasingly consolidated health system environment where application rationalization is amongst the top five issues for IT leaders we talk to.
I think the market continues to seek a unified platform that can provide the right level of consolidation, integration and workflow impact, and can deliver tangible outcomes. Simple cloud-based secured messaging products just aren’t enough. The encouraging news is that this growing awareness amongst the vendors, healthcare organization and the patients they take care of, will drive ongoing innovation to fulfill that enterprise platform demand.
What advice would you give to those who are considering initial purchase of, or are expanding, their current basic secured messaging solution?
Take a workflow and outcomes design point of view. Consider all different user roles —providers, nurses, allied health and ancillary staff. Pull together a truly interdisciplinary team and treat the selection process as an enterprise level project, not a departmental solution. Finally, engage the right IT resources to assess the readiness of wireless networks, mobile device management capabilities and post-adoption systems-support capability.
What should health systems expect from their mobile clinical communications solution vendor?
I believe health systems should put the pressure on vendors to provide clarity not only in explaining feature requirements but also the experience and methodologies they bring to the table regarding assessment, deployment, adoption, monitoring and ongoing optimization. The space is still maturing, so dig deep on the vendor’s ability to convert from trials to enterprise adoption. Dig even deeper on the reliability of the solution at actual customer sites. If something has been deployed in a large enterprise health systems for years, but is only live and available in a few units, seek to understand what the barriers are to enterprise wide deployment.
As the market for clinical communications matures and platform solutions become the norm, what’s next on the horizon for those platforms against health systems’ evolving needs?
I believe the future is already here; it’s just unevenly distributed. We are already seeing innovative health systems actively thinking ahead about how they will leverage the investments they’ve made in clinical communications platform, and telehealth programs, while underlying processes and resources develop broader care coordination solutions. Their work is a source of inspiration for mobile communication vendors to address care coordination needs in a bigger, more concerted way: to strengthen the care team-to-patient interaction and impact underserved but costly-to-manage populations by integrating with telehealth services that can be triggered as part of a holistic care pathway. The future is very exciting.