Survey reveals slow progress for mobile infrastructure in healthcare

Sept. 12, 2019
450-plus healthcare professionals weigh in on mobile devices, security, and infrastructure

Spok, Inc., a healthcare communications provider, has released the results of its ninth annual survey on mobile strategies in healthcare. Respondents included more than 450 healthcare professionals from hospitals and health systems around the country, of whom 38 percent were clinicians and 21 percent were IT or telecommunications staff.

In comparing survey responses from 2016 to 2019, respondents reported fewer challenges with mobile infrastructure, though progress has been slow, says the company. Wi-Fi coverage remains a top challenge in hospitals, according to almost half (47 percent) of survey respondents, down from 55 percent in the 2016 survey. Similarly, 39 percent reported cellular coverage is still a challenge, a reduction from 46 percent in 2016.

For the eighth straight year, smartphones are the most commonly used communication tool, in use at 75 percent of hospitals.  Notably, pagers are still a heavily relied on communication device. At 53 percent, more than half of non-clinical staff—including housekeepers, transport technicians, and dietary staff—use pagers as their primary communication device. When asked which type of devices their organization supports, 75 percent of respondents selected at least one type of pager. The survey participants also selected the coverage area for paging networks as “excellent” or “good” more often (65 percent) than any other communication device.

Survey respondents identified the essential functions of communication devices. Almost 80 percent reported communicating with care team members as essential, followed by delivering real-time clinical information (67 percent), receiving actionable information such as nurse call alerts (67 percent), and sending and receiving protected health information (60 percent). Half also identified sharing information from the EHR as essential.

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