Last blog I wrote about the trend in software to move toward the cloud and how it applies to the surgical environment. This blog I would like to write about a related trend in software…the move toward “mobility”…and how it affects the surgical environment.
Just like cloud, the term mobility takes on different meanings for different people. In these days of “the planet of the phones” (to steal a phrase from this Economist article) where smartphones are owned by 50% of the adult population, and are projected to be owned by 80% of the adult population by 2020, I believe that most people intuitively define mobility as something that they can do better using their phone or a similar (i.e. tablet) device. But when we start to look at mobility inside the Perioperative environment things get very interesting.
In the Perioperative environment using the term mobility could imply the use of a number of different devices, and it isn’t immediately clear just exactly how “mobile” these devices should be. For instance, I have heard providers reference the fact that they would like to access certain patient data from their smartphone (for instance, to be able to record anesthesia start time) in the pre-operative area. This makes sense for enhanced patient care given the relatively unbounded area that can make up the pre-op. But once that same provider goes inside the OR does it make sense from a usability standpoint to have that same patient data accessible from a smartphone given that there are sterilized workstations in the OR? For me the answer isn’t immediately clear.
This same question could be applied to every area of the surgery department…and even to surgery processes outside the hospital walls. For instance, I can see huge benefits to patients being able to enter their own pre-operative data (to be validated by a nurse) from any internet connected location and this would include from their own mobile device. Many providers already offer this through their own web portals or through integrated 3rd parties (one example here). But would it then make sense for providers to be able to access this same data remotely from anywhere they take their own phone, even from a crowded area such as a sporting event or movie theater? Again the answer for me isn’t immediately clear.
In both of these cases I suspect that the answer is increasingly “yes” that as technology providers we should create solutions, that when used properly by providers, also increase their ability to serve patients while on the go. I believe the benefits to patient care and work-life balance for providers far outweigh the risks when done correctly.