This week, we feature Shahid Shah, an enterprise software analyst that specializes in healthcare IT with an emphasis on e-health, E M Rs, data integration, and legacy modernization. He is also founder of the popular Healthcare IT Guy blog.
VPN Haus: Let’s start at a higher level, what are you seeing in the mobile health space? How are the adoption rates to mobile technology?
Shahid Shah: Mobile devices and wireless in general are hot topics these days. And you have a variety of different areas. One major one is wireless, broadly speaking, and the other one is mobile phones. You may have noticed that if you go into hospitals these days, many don’t allow mobile phones. Lots of hospital device vendors and mobile device vendors are trying to figure how to best incorporate cellular technology into hospitals.
As far as mobile phone and mobile technologies adoption is concerned, the adoption rate is just as good – if not better – than any commercial sector (other than the mass consumer market). Consumers have definitely picked up on mobile technology significantly better than any enterprises have.
In the healthcare enterprise sector, adoption is really quite high, that’s the good news is. But the bad news is, there are still a wide variety of standards that haven’t been adopted broadly enough to be applicable across cross multiple mobile devices within the hospital.
VPN Haus: In the healthcare sector, how are IT administrators handling the adoption of mobile devices?
Shah: People are thinking of mobile devices in their own groups. For example, in a complex hospital environment setting, you might have medical devices with wireless capabilities that are treated differently than VOIP devices that might be running on Wi-Fi or voice-over IP. Then you have entire cellular networks that run on their own set of standards. Hospital networks, the FDA, and the FTC are having a very difficult time trying to figure out how to give mobile access to doctors and nurses in way that allows them to use medical devices simultaneously while also allowing them to use cell phones in traditional ways.
For example, there are many cases where you’ll go in with a cellphone in an area of a hospital where cellular signals won’t work but Wi-fi does. And then you move 20-feet down in the same environment and Wi-Fi will stop working but the cellphone will come on. It’s one thing if you lose the signal on a phone call with a friend but a whole other thing if you have a critical medical device running on wireless and that thing loses signal or connectivity even briefly. It can really mean a big deal to lose signal in a critical life scenario.