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Health Care Providers Must Increase Mobile Unified Communications Investments

February 10, 2015 by

One of the fastest growing areas in the realm of unified communications is mobile. With mobile UC solutions in place, workers can become far more productive, efficient and, notably, happy. After all, just about everyone loves their smartphones and tablets and would appreciate the ability to use these devices for work-related purposes.

But not every industry is moving ahead with mobile UC plans all that quickly. Notably, a recent survey of 100 physicians from the Spyglass Consulting Group found that while the health care sector is lagging behind, doctors widely wish that hospitals and clinics would make greater progress in this capacity.

Doctors without Borders

As eWEEK reported, the survey found that nearly every physician now owns a smartphone. Yet despite this close-to-universal adoption rate, the respondents asserted their hospitals and other health care providers are not doing enough to move forward with mobile UC plans. Specifically, 70 percent of respondents said health care providers are not investing sufficiently in physician mobile computing and communication requirements. Key shortcomings cited include a lack of mobile electronic health record tools and inadequate mobile user support.

In many cases, the source explained, health care providers are forcing physicians to rely on EHR systems for clinical communications. As Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass, told eWEEK, this is an unsatisfactory approach, with 83 percent of respondents expressing frustration with this status quo.

"EHR is a database designed to capture and retain data that maximizes payer reimbursement, ensures regulatory compliance, and protects the organization from liability," Malkary said, according to the source. "It is not a suitable substitute for communication, care coordination, and workflow technologies."

The problem is not that the technology to support mobile UC for doctors is unavailable. Rather, hospitals and other care providers have simply not pursued these solutions.

"Despite advancements in mobile devices and unified communications, hospital IT has underinvested in technologies and processes to support physicians and care team members to help eliminate communications bottlenecks, streamline productivity, improve care quality, and increase nursing satisfaction," Malkary explained, eWEEK reported.

Moving Forward

Considering the potential advantages that mobile UC solutions can provide to the health care sector, and the frustration that so many doctors are clearly feeling, it seems clear that this status quo can't last. Hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices need to ramp up their efforts to deploy UC solutions that include a depth of mobile functionality.

For example, physicians would greatly benefit from fixed mobile convergence services. These tools enable users to make and receive calls from an office phone number on their mobile devices. This adds a huge degree of flexibility to doctors' communication with patients and colleagues.

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