Selecting the Right Mobile Devices for Healthcare

As clinical mobility becomes the standard in healthcare facilities, administrators and practitioners have to plan appropriately to ensure they get the right devices in the hands of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.

Our partner, Zebra Technologies, has the best-in-class mobile devices for healthcare, designed specifically for the jobs of nurses, doctors, administrators, and other staff. Here is an overview of their clinical mobility best practices selection guide.

What are the best mobile devices for healthcare?

Enterprise devices designed especially for healthcare environments are usually the best choice because of the design, apps, and security features built into them. These devices include specific features like disinfectant-ready devices to sustain cleaning with the harsh disinfectants found in hospitals.

What criteria are important for healthcare facilities?

Healthcare environments have unique criteria to consider when selecting devices, like the ability to meet privacy regulations or withstand harsh cleaners. That’s why it’s crucial to weigh various features to ensure you are getting devices that are best suited to your environment. 

Here are some of the criteria Zebra recommends when selecting mobile devices for healthcare:

Security Features—Since you must comply with privacy protection and data security regulations, you’ll find that consumer-grade devices do not have the security features you need. Enterprise devices are designed to provide the required levels of security, including adding features like Zebra’s Mx Extensions, which add another layer of security when compared to consumer devices. 

Disinfectant-Ready Design—Reducing infections is always top-of-mind in healthcare. Since your devices need frequent disinfecting, you need a mobile device that has proper IP (Ingress Protection) sealing. Proper sealing prevents chemical cleaners from damaging sensitive electronics. Zebra devices also have outer shells that can withstand constant exposure to these harsh chemicals. 

Voice Capabilities—Whether you need a push-to-talk feature for nurses or the ability to take a call from the PBX, your devices must have excellent voice capabilities. Zebra has all-in-one voice and data mobile devices that feature the Enterprise Voice Solution. This unique solution allows you to easily add voice features to mobile devices for different workgroups. Another Zebra feature, the Validated Voice Solution, assures that the voice services you deploy will work on mobile devices, wireless LAN infrastructure, and PBXs.

Along with these three criteria, Zebra also recommends including battery power, accessories, wireless access, scanning capabilities, management, support, and any issues specific to your healthcare environment on your list when evaluating devices. 

How does staff communication drive mobile device choices in healthcare?

Before you start looking at devices, you need to have a full understanding of how your staff communicates now and examine what you’ll need to future-proof your staff communication system.

You can start the process by mapping the ways your hospital staff communicates. Survey your clinical and support staff to learn what they are presently using. If you are still using pagers, overhead paging systems, and other communication systems like personal cell phones, you could be at risk for a breakdown because of outdated technologies. 

It’s important also to identify your key mobile communication requirements, including anything related to the regulations with which you must comply. For example, healthcare facilities are subject to regulations governing data confidentiality. It’s strongly recommended to use a third-party mobile device management (MDM) system/provider. The MDM can assist with mobile-compliant patient privacy protection and data handling. An MDM provides central control of all mobile devices, keeping patient data safe. 

You’ll need to determine the systems and applications your staff will access. This process includes examining PBX systems, alarms (including how you will manage them), current or potentially new communication platforms, electronic health records access and sharing, among others.   

Finally, there’s the rollout process, which usually happens in phases. Best practices usually have facilities starting with voice and text capabilities. Often EHR applications are next. You’ll have to provide training for your applications and test interoperability.  

What costs should be analyzed before selecting healthcare devices?

Cost is always a major decision when pursuing a clinical mobility initiative. While consumer devices and BYOD policies might look like they provide savings, you’ll find that enterprise devices actually deliver more value over the long term. 

Zebra research shows that the annual five-year total cost of ownership of an enterprise-grade device is $2,140. Consumer devices over the same term cost $3,236. These numbers include calculating how you’ll need to buy multiple consumer devices over the time period and incur additional costs on accessories, etc.  

Moreover, an Aberdeen Group report showed that a company with 1,000 mobile devices could expect to spend an average of an extra $170,000 per year to support BYOD. The additional costs come from different areas, including carrier billing, IT, and expense reports for reimbursement.  

Are you ready to explore a clinical mobility initiative in your facility?

There’s a lot to think about when you are getting ready to purchase new devices as part of a clinical mobility initiative. Strategic Systems can help you create a plan, weigh the criteria for devices, and help you implement your new devices so you can raise the level of patient care. Give us a call today at 877-389-7255 or email to discuss how we can help your everchanging healthcare needs. 

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