Around the world, healthcare systems struggle with unprecedented unsustainable rises in healthcare costs and expanding access to care. Every player in the healthcare value chain needs to re-evaluate how more effective care can be delivered to more patients at lower cost. Can tablets and smartphones help?
Today’s buzz around eHealth is centered on the clinical environment. Smartphones and tablets have already taken root in clinical practices. In time, the tablet or smartphone may become the primary display. According to a report from New York, N.Y. based Manhattan Research titled, “Taking the Pulse 2012,” 85 percent of U.S. physicians own or use a smartphone for their profession. Of the 62 percent of physicians who own tablets, half use them at the point of care.
Clinicians are a mobile workforce and, like most consumers, have a personal emotional attachment to their smartphones and tablets. They drive smartphone and tablet implementation as either an addition to or as a replacement for previous IT investments– both at the patient bedside and in administrative environments.
Tablets provide a significantly improved user interface, allow for greater portability and cost less than laptops. They allow for easier and more efficient interaction of nurses and physicians with electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR) and with patients and families.
Additionally, wireless sensing, radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC), barcodes and mobility technologies catalyze the move toward safer, more efficient and intelligent hospitals. As a result, they provide opportunities to improve (and even redesign) patient care workflows. One example is a more portable, connected label and barcode printer for printing wristbands and specimen vial labels at the patient bedside instead of at nursing stations or in labs.
In time, with appropriate evidence, the tablet or smartphone may become the primary display. Combined with the potential migration of diagnostics and analytics from standalone devices into the server and storage infrastructure, future medical devices may look and function much differently. The bedside medical device could be altered dramatically as the infrastructure of the hospital encroaches on functionality that was solely part of the medical device.
To start planning for and responding to consumer platforms and server infrastructure that form a critical part of the medical device ecosystem, medical device companies can work more closely with their value chain partners. Design, manufacturing and supply chain vendors can help develop future generations of new devices and define new services.
In Guy Kawasaki’s book, “Rules for Revolutionaries,” he writes that opportunities for real differentiated value can be found on the edges or the interfaces between things. Interfaces are where dissimilar elements come together and conflict and disruption naturally occurs. In healthcare, there are many complex human-to-human interfaces, human-to-machine interfaces and machine-to-machine interfaces.
Smartphones and tablets, with their intuitive user interfaces, easy internet connections, sleek form factors and engaging downloadable mobile apps, combined with well-designed wireless biologic, physiologic and anatomic sensors, might prove to smooth out the bumpy and conflict-ridden terrain of most human-to-machine interfaces.
As competitive differentiation becomes harder in the medical device market, Are you exploring ways to collaborate with your value-chain partners for next-generation, connected medical devices?