Mobile IT in LTC: Insights from experts

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Russell Cook
Russell Cook
Editor's Note: At the Long-Term and Post-Acute Care HIT Summit, nine industry leaders in health information technology discussed mobile solutions and industry trends. This roundtable discussion was sponsored by WoundRounds®, and VP Russell Cook compiled thoughts from the session. Part Two will appear Tuesday.

Mobile solutions are one of the fastest growing segments of health information technology, and include much more than mobile apps. 

“When we hear ‘mobile', most of us tend to think of the app store and what we download to our phones,” according to Terry Leonard, CIO of Life Care Centers of America.  “These apps are only a small part of the broader mobile category which includes anything that's a gateway between a mobile device and a database.” 

In long-term care, likely mobile applications include using mobile devices for eMAR/TAR.  Mobile applications also include leveraging the EHR system on smartphones or iPads, or using mobile solutions such as WoundRounds for wound care and Casamba for rehab. For HIT professionals, supporting mobile devices adds to their already-heavy workload of maintaining IT systems, computers and kiosks on the wall. 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The LTPAC workforce is comprised of a growing generation of mobile users.  Wayne Brannock, Vice President of Clinical Affairs for Lorien Health System explains, “the younger generation likes to manage things on their phone.”  Steve Arndt, CIO of Shea Family Care agrees, “Why fight it — many of our users prefer mobile.  And different people prefer different devices.”

Rather than going the route of user-supplied devices, many facilities seek to implement standardized employer-supplied devices. According to Leonard, “More often than not, screen size becomes the issue with EMR/POC applications. It's hard to see all the data on a small screen, and that's why many use iPads and notebook computers for these applications.”

But standard size iPads don't fit well into lab coats or shirt pockets. Leonard expects his facilities will be soon exploring the less expensive tablets with 7-inch screens. The key test will be whether users can activate the touch-enabled features. The fallback is using a stylus, but Leonard explains, “stylus use is another friction point” with his users.

Mobile might be a growing trend, but it isn't the solution for all facilities. Wall-mounted kiosks support patient care in many facilities, according to Dave Piehl, Administrator of Information Systems at Lutheran Senior Services.  

Ilene Shapiro, VP IT for Tutera Group says, “Kiosks are ultimately a better value because one wall device can support up to 25 patients, they don't get lost, are constantly charged and, in most cases, have much larger screens than most mobile devices. We have found a mixture of devices to work well for us.”

Russell Cook is the vice president of product development and chief architect at WoundRounds.


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