It’s been 10 years since the term “mHealth” was pegged and started to make its rounds within the healthcare circles. Since then mobile technologies and apps in the healthcare space have, unsurprisingly, grown rapidly. This influx of technology came with great promises, the question being asked now is whether or not it’s lived up to what was promised.
The answer is, honestly, that it’s hard to tell. There were of course of a few problems as we moved towards mHealth, including the assumption that staff would welcome changes with open arms. Only to learn the hard way that we are creatures of habit, which ensured new software were often met with icy stares. Add to that the friction caused by having a generation gap in healthcare where some were plain and simple not confident using new technology. Above all, there was, of course, an explosion of data that came with our new tools that made us begin to question what should become of it all, and if we’re not using the data that we’re gathering, do we truly need these new, expensive tools?
The answer is an unequivocal, yes! To deny that mHealth has been beneficial is as preposterous as it would be to suggest that it hasn’t come with its problems. After all, the introduction of new mobile technology to the healthcare space has undoubtedly improved workflow, increased efficiencies and made staff more productive. To approach healthcare otherwise would be backward, and would surely be more troublesome to implement later down the line than it would have been even in the infancy of healthcare software. With that said, it’s better to simply look forward and learn from the past. Here are 5 lessons after a decade of mHealth.
- Not using data doesn’t mean it’s not useful
Never before have we collected data in such quantity. So it should come to no surprise that we’re at a bit of a loss as to how we can use it, especially if it’s not data that you had specifically set out in search for. In many cases, you just need to know what you’re looking for. Perhaps, it’s time to start asking questions and hypothesizing, the answers may already be at your fingertips already.
- Train your staff
It doesn’t matter how new, great or shiny a new product is, if your staff isn’t confident in how to use the solution you’ve introduced, they’re not going to use it. Having a proper and thorough plan for onboarding is crucial to your program’s success. Be sure to outline what wasn’t working with the old system, how this new system will improve processes and of course walk them through the product–paying special care to those who might need more help than others.
If we go back to the very core of why we made the move towards mHealth, it was to increase efficiencies and gain productivity to better serve our patients. Since there is no one since to do it all, we use several systems to accomplish one task. This can be time-consuming and goes against the very reasons we chose to innovate in the first place. Hospitals must look for systems that lighten their workloads and makes their work simpler, in turn pushing vendors to improve their own products.
- Plan. Plan. Plan.
What good is having all the best solutions if there is no plan in place to properly implement and use them? It’s an important first step to ensuring your initiative sees success. Create a plan of attack with members of your hospital and your vendor to ensure everything goes off without a hitch. Don’t be afraid to talk to your vendor, after all, your success is their success.
- It’s not about technology
The robots aren’t taking over, yet. So, if it’s not about technology, what is it about? It’s really about much of what we said above: training staff, planning, and improving. The problem has been with us, and the belief that technology fix everything. Whereas mHealth was only ever meant to augment the process, not do everything for us.
As the world around us grows more and more technically advanced, it’s a completely ridiculous notion for us to abandon the integration of better technology to healthcare. Rather, it’s a better idea to work with vendors to better products you use and look to bettering your organization’s processes and address the gaps that exist. For better or worse, technology is here to stay, the real question is how will we make it work for us.