Mobile technology – now ubiquitous in our daily lives in the form of laptops, smartphones and tablets – clearly offers enormous potential to transform the delivery of healthcare. Nowhere is that potential clearer, perhaps, than in the field of community nursing. By replacing paper records with electronic ones accessed via a handheld device, for instance, the need for nurses to return to base to update or access information is greatly reduced. The result is increased efficiency and often improved patient care.
But the reality is that the introduction of mobile technology to community healthcare settings is not without its challenges. Software systems have sometimes not been tailored to the needs of nurses working in the community, meaning setups have caused more problems than they have solved. And the varying quality of mobile signals across the country means connectivity can sometimes be an issue, particularly in rural areas.
There is also the simple fact that, initially, the introduction of digital can represent a significant change. Nurses who were used to quickly recording something on pen and paper suddenly find themselves having to logon to devices, check connectivity, sometimes log on to a VPN, record observations via a keyboard, and focus on their patients at the same time.
These challenges are not insurmountable, however. If CIOs, CCIOs and CNIOs focus on key issues such as ease of use, network coverage, and application behaviour, then the odds of a successful rollout are greatly increased.
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