Mobile Technology Begins to Take Center Stage at HIMSS15

Among the conferences we go to, the most important one for us is HIMSS, which took place April 12-15 in Chicago, where over 43,000 people attended the annual gathering that showcases the latest technology in healthcare.

Interoperability continues to gain needed momentum and the introduction of FHIR standards for sharing data with EHR systems represents a hopeful step forward. Analytics and the ability to measure performance in healthcare were everywhere as providers, payors, and vendors look to solve the challenges of executing in an ACO world.  However, the area most exciting for Mobile Heartbeat was the increasing interest in solutions that leverage mobile technology. We have always known it was a matter of “when” not “if” mobile technology takes center stage.  It appears that time is now.

This interest was reflected in the amount of traffic we had and the depth of conversations we conducted with customers and prospects.  Not only did they come to our booth to see and learn, they also checked out our MH-CURE solution in the Cisco booth, where we were able to showcase how we leverage advanced communications infrastructure with our leading clinical communications solution. The positive feedback and the validation we received on the direction Mobile Heartbeat has chosen were encouraging.

One new capability that captured a lot of attention was our new peer-to-peer video capability.  Delivering real-time video through smartphones is an extension of the integrated communication capabilities offered today and will enable health systems to connect clinicians and leverage a broader array of capabilities at the point of care. It was great to see how quickly customers grasped the potential and were suggesting new and unique use cases.

Attendees filled the room to hear the session presented by our customer, Yale New Haven Hospital, on “Improving Clinical Communications & Workflow via Smartphones”. Ed Fisher and Allen Hsiao from YNHH implemented MH-CURE over 3 years ago and were able to share their experiences and best practices for the audience. Feedback was outstanding. Hearing about the real experiences of a customer improving clinical workflow, patient experience, and overall healthcare delivery with mobile technology showed that the potential is real and benefits can be significant.

HIMSS is an exhausting but incredibly stimulating 3-4 days offering a glimpse into the future of healthcare. At Mobile Heartbeat, we are tremendously excited about the potential for enterprise clinical communications leveraging smartphone technology. Healthcare is on the cusp of transitioning into more mainstream adoption of this technology, and with it will begin to realize tremendous benefits for patients, clinicians, and health systems.

Clinical App Security on Mobile Devices

There’s a lot of discussion (and misinformation) out there about mobile device management (MDM) and the kind of security it provides. MDM became an issue in healthcare when the IT staff realized that the only way to manage the security of hospital-owned mobile devices is to require that an MDM be installed on the phone, which essentially takes total control of the device.

There are several MDM solutions out there, but they are all very onerous to place on a mobile device. That’s one factor that has many physicians who are BYOD using their own devices saying, “Look, this is my phone. I really don’t want to put something that controls my device onto my phone.” In response, hospitals are saying, “Well, if you won’t let us manage the security of your phone, we can’t let you have access to this clinical application.” Therefore, physicians won’t use the application.

Given this ongoing friction between the hospital IT folks who want to make sure that mobile applications are secure and the clinical folks who don’t want their devices controlled, efforts have been made to implement less intrusive security. The latest MDM applications have been developed to control just the application and its data as opposed to trying to control the entire phone. Clinical applications such as MH-CURE are developed with security built-in for the application and its data.

At Mobile Heartbeat, we have a great deal of knowledge in the security area because our background includes 10 years working with credit cards in the retail world. We’ve used this expertise to make our clinical smartphone application very secure compared to others in the market. We’ve had penetration testing done on our application to confirm its security and we are continuously improving its security to ensure it is more secure than other mobile applications. We’re currently working with several partners to simplify the wrapping of the application so that physicians don’t need to download two applications – the wrapper and the clinical application.

We’re hoping that our continuous efforts to secure MH-CURE will make hospital IT folks more and more comfortable with its security. Four years ago, when we started developing MH-CURE, they wouldn’t even let a mobile application access the EMR information; no PHI was allowed to go outside the hospital. So, they’ve come a long way with allowing us to access HIPAA data outside the hospital.

MH-CURE uses public/private key encryption and employs token authentication like the banking industry does. We don’t use home-grown encryption ? we use the standards in the industry which are considered the highest level of security.  We also constantly scan MH-CURE with the most advanced vulnerability scanning tools, particularly with every iteration of the software. These tools scan from outside as well as from inside the application.

We find that hospitals have very strong security measures in place themselves as part of meeting JCAHO requirements for auditing access to patient data, including access through a mobile device. They need to keep track of every person who accesses a lab result or patient image and what their role is, as only certain roles can access certain types of patient data. We work with hospitals to ensure only persons in specific roles can access the patient data that role is authorized to see.

Security is not something you can develop and then never think about again. As applications get updated, the infrastructure gets updated, and Windows gets updated, you need to be on your guard. So, with every new software version we develop, security is one of the top items we address. No version of our product will get released without ensuring it has that extra security. Maintaining total security is an ongoing and evolving world, and it is a critical feature in our MH-CURE clinical application.

Nurse Call Nightmare

A loud klaxon sounds in a busy hospital unit. A patient is in pain and needs the attention of one of your caregivers.

Unfortunately, nobody knows who should be going to the room. The patient just came into the unit and the assigned nurse is nowhere to be seen. Who is responsible for responding to the patient’s request?

Clearly, this is a nightmare scenario, but I bet there are people reading this for whom it may sound all too eerily familiar.

So, how can a properly constructed dynamic care team and directed messaging help prevent this from happening?

First, a dynamic care team can ensure that the patient care teams on the floor have the proper tools to make real-time patient-to-staff assignments. This should be a part of your modern nurse call solution, a call system that keeps all mobile devices up-to-date on which staff members are assigned to each patient.

Of course, this needs to be augmented with an alert to the Unit Coordinator or Charge Nurse whenever a patient doesn’t have a nurse or other key caregiver assigned.

The second and crucial part of the solution is directed messaging. This ensures that when a patient pushes a nurse call button, the call is sent directly to the appropriate member of the care team, regardless of where that individual is. The call can then be dealt with rapidly or escalated to other members of the care team as appropriate.

So, when looking for a clinical support system, make sure that the system has Directed Messaging the ability to get the right message to the right clinician instantly. Most systems just have text messaging, but this means you have to know in advance who the right person is. MH-CURE was designed around Directed Messaging. This capability leads to greater staff satisfaction – as there’s no more confusion around responding to patient needs – and ultimately improves the delivery of patient care.