Smartphones play an important role in many aspects of everyday life. Like it or not, the Digital Age is here to stay—and reliance on electronic devices is only increasing every day. In addition to utilizing smartphones for social networking needs, smartphones are becoming increasingly important to various industries, including the healthcare sector. Tablets and smartphones both play a pivotal role in modern hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices around the globe, particularly in today’s times of a global pandemic—when more and more business and daily operations are being conducted virtually.
Let’s explore some of the ways mobile technology in healthcare is being integrated on an increased basis each day, as well as some of the benefits of smartphones in healthcare.
Benefits of Smartphones in Healthcare
According to many physicians, there are three key areas in which it helps greatly to have smartphones and tablets available for use in medical facilities:
- Staff coordination
- Patient communication
- Mobile access to medical records
Scheduling and communicating with medical staff is one area highlighted as benefitting from the availability of mobile technology in healthcare operations. Tracking patient information, treatment, vitals, and medication administration between staff members, as well as communicating with patients directly for appointments, updating address and contact information, reporting symptoms, and even virtual consultations are now a digital possibility with smartphone and tablet implementation.
Communication is Key
Research shows that a reported 77% of patients prefer digital communication over the traditional hardcopy paperwork procedures. As such, communication is undoubtedly the top way smartphones are used successfully in healthcare. Whether nurses and physicians are reporting updates on patients and charting their check-ins, or front office staff is scheduling surgery or virtual appointment, taking the virtual route in communicating saves a great deal of time for all parties involved, and time is always of the essence in a medical situation.
Employee Professional Development
Training and professional development is, of course, a key element of occupations in the medical field. However, social distancing has undoubtedly put a pause on certain “hands on” or socially interactive trainings. Luckily, smartphones have made it possible to conduct most professional development or other educational opportunities online.
Virtual Doctors’ Visits
As we mentioned earlier, patients can now visit with their doctor without making the trek into the office. In many cases, virtual doctor visits are sufficient for addressing symptoms, discussing concerns and plans of action, as well as determining the appropriate medications/prescriptions needed. Even in ordinary times, having to make a trip in to the doctor’s office while feeling under the weather is usually not something people look forward to doing. During these virtual visits, physicians can determine whether or not an in-person examination is necessary.
An Array of Apps
New healthcare-related apps are being developed every day, giving hospitals and doctors’ offices options for selecting and using the ones that are best-suited to a particular facility’s needs. This custom-tailored digital application lends a more unique approach to healthcare operations. There still remains a vast amount of untapped potential as far as the possible capabilities of technology in the medical field. In fact, there are well over 318,000 medical-related apps to date. That’s an abundance of available technology!
Additional Roles of Smartphones in Healthcare: Patient At-Home Uses
The above-mentioned roles of smartphones in healthcare is not an exhaustive list. The following are also pertinent jobs mobile technology in the medical industry can play as they are able to be integrated into patients’ homes by connecting to smartphone-adaptable devices:
- Weight scales
- Blood pressure cuffs
- Pulse oximeters
- Blood sugar monitoring
Not only does the possibility of these innovations being used by patients at home come with a considerable amount of convenience, but they also allow for the tracking of data by smartphones. Gone are the days of patients having to recall and document data for their next medical clinic visit. When this information is able to be recorded by smartphones, the guesswork is gone, and the very important data collected can be sent virtually to the monitoring healthcare professional without any lag time. The result? A quicker response when any type of intervention or assistance is needed.
Smartphone Availability for Consumers/Patients
Now that we have delved into the major positives and possibilities that come with smartphones being available for a multitude of healthcare-related purposes, let’s look at the importance of the public having access to dependable smartphones. Many people are, unfortunately, unable to afford a smartphone and talk/text/data plans. Without access to these devices, people in financially-strained situations will not be able to take part in these medical/technological advancements. Have you heard of the “government phone?” The Federal Lifeline Assistance Program is a government-funded program that aids those in need for obtaining a free smartphone and data plan. Assist Wireless is Oklahoma’s #1 provider of the Federal Lifeline Program, connecting low-income individuals with internet access and mobile devices that could potentially be life-saving.
This program was specifically developed to support:
- low-income citizens (and their families)
It works by providing low-cost or free mobile devices and data plans to these individuals in need. Through the federally mandated Lifeline Assistance Program, which is part of the Universal Service Fund and was developed in 1985, Assist Wireless is able to provide help to those who may otherwise be forced to go without these devices. Assist Wireless and supporters of the program to understand the importance of having access to emergency services, health care, childcare, education, and employment opportunities. To qualify, you have to meet certain income requirements or be a recipient of one of several government-funded financial assistance programs.