Mobile tech popular, but governance gaps remain, says HIMSS

By Eric Wicklund
10:13 AM

The 1st Annual HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey, released on Monday, finds that almost all respondents have accessed clinical information through a mobile device. But just 38 percent of them report having a policy in place that regulates the devices' use.

The 12-page report, released on the first day of the mHealth Summit, points to widespread mHealth use in healthcare settings, but also indicates that upper-level management is having problems keeping up with the technology. According to the survey, about half of the respondents said their organization is developing a mobile technology policy, while close to two-thirds plan to have a policy in place in the next six months.

[See also: Mobile app brings doc into the equation.]

HIMSS officials received responses from 164 members in conducting the survey in October and November. Half of the respondents indicated they are responsible for ensuring their mobile technology is implemented and operational at their organization, while 48 percent are part of a committee that is responsible for developing organizational policy for mobile technology and 42 percent have direct responsibility for developing that policy.

The survey comes as HIMSS makes a move to address the growing mHealth industry through the launch of mHIMSS and the development of the website, both of which are being shown off at this week’s mHealth Summit in Washington D.C. In addition, the World Health Organization recently released a study indicating the “use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe.”

[See also: mHealth moving forward fast, experts say.]

Factors figuring into this growth include the development of mobile technologies and applications, growth in cellular networks and new opportunities to integrate mobile health into current services.

According to the HIMSS survey:

  • Respondents, when asked to rate the maturity of their mobile environment, averaged 3.88 on a scale of 1 to 7 – where 1 is not mature and 7 is highly mature.
  • Existing mobile technology polices cover a broad spectrum of issues, from tools to secure mobile devices to the use of personal devices for work purposes to the brands of mobile devices used in the organization.
  • Respondents were more likely to report that clinicians use apps to look up non-personal health information (such as clinical guidelines) or to view patient information, while they’re less likely to use apps to record patient data.
  • Roughly 75 percent of those surveyed said their organization allows clinicians to access clinical data via a mobile device on a public network with approved security, such as a VPN.
  • Asked to list key benefits to the use of mobile technology, respondents cited improved access to patient information and the ability to view data from a remote location.
  • As for barriers to the use of mobile technology, respondents listed inadequate privacy and security. When asked to identify the top concern of clinicians, they listed speed of accessing data.
  • Less than half of the respondents indicated their organization supports personal devices owned by the end-user, and which are enabled by the organization to support daily work activities.
  • When asked about methods for securing data on mobile devices, respondents listed a wide variety of methods, the most popular of which were passwords.

The survey can be accessed here.