Healthcare IT in 2016: Embracing Mobility

Mar 2016: By Mark Micallef, Area Vice President, ASEAN, Citrix

Innovation is unleashed when people are inspired. As disruption forces companies to continuously find new ways to eke out a competitive advantage, it is easy to overlook the corporate workplace itself. Today, success depends on the streamlining of processes, and finding the most efficient ways to get things done – right down to the physical and digital environments of employees.

Mark Micallef, Area VP, ASEAN, Citrix

With the ever-growing need to support remote work styles and BYOD initiatives, IT in the healthcare industry has become a lot more complex. Mobility is transforming healthcare as clinicians embrace new devices and methods of working to deliver better and faster care to patients everywhere. As a result, a secure IT infrastructure which delivers real time content required to treat patients is now no longer a nicety, but a necessity. Whether it is extending applications and data to the cloud, or just outside the walls of the organization, businesses are embracing mobility solutions to provide secure and nimble IT.

To reap the benefits of healthcare mobility while avoiding potential risks, organizations need to develop a structured strategy, addressing the people, policies and technologies involved. In this article, Mark Micallef, Area Vice President, Citrix ASEAN, outlines the five steps for embracing mobility in healthcare.

1. Understand industry best practices

With the emergence of mobile devices, healthcare organizations have had to adapt and rethink traditional IT best practices to enable their secure use. In the past, organizations often focused on controlling devices. However, the latest best practices have expanded beyond device management.

Healthcare organizations today have to address the management of apps and data – especially as clinicians require on-the-go access as they move from hospital to office to clinic.

For instance, Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS) in Singapore leverages desktop virtualization to enable healthcare staff to securely access and share patient information more swiftly across the country’s public hospitals, national specialty centers and polyclinics. With quicker access to the Electronic Medical Records system, the solution also helps facilitate team-based care for improved patient outcomes. IHiS Chief Executive Officer, Dr Chong Yoke Sin, said: “The virtualization technology enables a consistent desktop experience for doctors and healthcare staff when retrieving latest data on the patient’s status across different healthcare facilities. This promotes efficient information sharing and seamless care integration along the care continuum.”

As an expanding array of healthcare applications become available, healthcare providers must be able to easily access their resources on any device, at any location. With enterprise mobility management, IT can enable employees to move beyond the constraints of fixed locations and standard PCs to enable new freedom and flexibility in the way people work.

2. Get stakeholder buy-in

Most healthcare industry professionals have at least an anecdotal appreciation of the growing need for mobility. However, many of them still have not fully appreciated its importance in business today.

Key constituents and employees in various departments need to be engaged early in the process in order to understand the organization’s needs holistically. Inputs from IT, security, HR, legal, as well as key medical personnel should be sought to help define policies for the use of mobile and consumer devices, whether corporate-owned or BYOD.

3. Define a clear organizational policy

A clear organizational policy is important. Ideally, healthcare institutions should formulate a policy which empowers clinicians with mobile access to the required resources.

At the same time, the policy needs to protect the organization and the privacy of its patients. This can only be done through educating the users on the responsible use of personal devices for work purposes. As such, an organization’s BYOD policy must address several key areas, namely employee eligibility, security and compliance, and legal terms of use.

4. Develop a technology strategy

Organizations have to adopt a variety of technology in order to simplify and securely enable mobility on any device. While companies will undoubtedly source for the best-in-class standalone products, a truly innovative and dynamic company will develop a technology strategy which will ensure seamless integration between the products. This integration is what differentiates technologies from solutions, and vendors from strategic partners.

5. Prepare for a successful rollout

To drive successful adoption, organizations need to formalize their rollout plan. Ideally, businesses should create resources that make it simple for clinicians and other employees to learn about mobility. For instance, a successful rollout for BYOD includes many processes, such as the setting up of enrollment procedures, providing tools that enable self-provisioning, and establishing levels of support and maintenance.

Today, mobility is about more than just the device. It no longer suffices for healthcare companies to just support mobility in the workplace. Instead, healthcare administrators should look to maximize the value of their investment by applying it to their biggest business challenges. The five steps outlined above can help organizations reap benefits from mobility for the entire business, ultimately enabling healthcare practitioners to deliver quality care and faster response times to patients.