As healthcare CIOs scramble to develop policies to guide mobile device usage, trade group aims to help.
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The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the largest and most influential trade group in the health IT industry, is making a formal entry into mobile health IT.
HIMSS launched a subsidiary called mHIMSS Monday at the third-annual mHealth Summit in National Harbor, Md. Edna Boone, senior director for mobile initiatives at HIMSS since 2008, now serves as executive director of mHIMSS. Rosemary Nelson, a retired Army nurse and former HIMSS board member, chairs the mHIMSS task force for HIMSS.
Membership in mHIMSS is restricted to individual and corporate HIMSS members, although the group will host its first formal track in mobile health at the 2012 HIMSS annual conference in February, which is open to all conference attendees.
HIMSS VP Pat Wise, who oversees mHIMSS from the corporate level, told InformationWeek Healthcare that there will be European and Asia-Pacific iterations of mHIMSS, with local leadership. "It's being designed for Europeans by Europeans," Wise said of that planned version.
Still, expect a good amount of crossover among chapters in terms of programming and research. While discussions about electronic health records and other forms of health IT tend to be segmented by country, "I don't find that with mobile technology," Wise said. "I suspect there will be a lot more similarities than differences."
HIMSS kicked off the mobile project by releasing its inaugural mHIMSS Mobile Technology Survey at the mHealth Summit. The survey of 164 mostly hospital-based CIOs and IT managers revealed that only 38% of healthcare organizations had a formal strategy or policy regarding the use of mobile devices. But another 51% said they were developing a policy.
Despite all the talk about a trend toward "bring-your-own-device," the survey found that 55% of hospitals only support devices owned or provided by the organization. About 40% can support devices owned by end users but enabled by the institution to support work-related functions.
Almost all survey participants said they provide laptops or computers on wheels (COWs) to clinicians, and 77% give pagers to their doctors or nurses. But newer technologies seem to be gaining. According to the survey, 55% offer their clinicians smartphones and 57% issue tablets that were not necessarily designed for healthcare. Some 42% provide healthcare-specific tablets like the Intel Mobile Clinical Assistant platform to clinicians.
Wise said that consumer tablets such as the iPad have not been specifically designed for healthcare. Some vendors at the mHealth Summit showed customized Android tablets that have been ruggedized or housed in antimicrobial cases.
About 80% of survey respondents said that many clinicians were interested in mobile technology. "This survey validates observations that clinicians are embracing mobile technology," said Wise. "It works seamlessly with providers' workflow."
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