Renew the hospital computers? It´s better to make it mobile

Image | IBM

A hospital is a complex place. Every time new patients enter, they are tested, reviewed and the hospital personnel has to generate and receive all of this information in order to provide the best care to their patients. Of course, it´s not a simple process, and in many cases it can create information chaos that results in poorer care for the patients.

This is basically what happened in the Ottawa Hospital, in Canada. With 1,100 beds, the computers that were available for the hospital doctors were not capable of resolving the situation: they were not sufficiently accessible nor available to be truly useful.

The solution came from IBM and mobile health, or mHealth. Dale Potter, the new Head of IT at the hospital, who came from the industrial world. He tried to troubleshoot, considering what doctors needed and investigating how to solve their problems, rather than forcing technological solutions that end up being less useful – like the computers distributed by the hospital.

Tablets, the best solution

Studying the habits of the hospital staff in Ottawa, they concluded that the main problems were the delay in information arriving to who needs it, and not having access to the necessary data when a patient asks a question (hospital staff have to go to the nearest computer).

The obvious solution was to transition to tablets. More than that: focus their efforts on it and not try to adapt a PC dependent platform.

However, of course, not everything was hardware. With the IBM collaboration, they created an interface called Circle of Care, which provides all team members with the necessary information to treat a patient, in addition to facilitating communication between them.

Thus, this made not only hospital doctors´ work easier, but also that of external consultors, who should be ready to respond to questions and help in the treatment if they are needed: instead of having to stay near a computer with internet access, now from their mobile or tablet they can access all of the information that they need.

Challenges and results in the Ottawa hospital

Renew the hospital computers? It´s better to make it mobile

There was also the problem of cost: to buy the devices, update the hospital’s network infrastructure and develop applications would cost between 5 and 10 million Canadian dollars (between 3.5 and 7 million euros approximately).

But in return, the Ottawa Hospital now works better, providing better care and treatment, saving doctors´ time and reducing costs. Moreover, there is the advantage of the collected data, which provides a lot of information about how the organization functions, allowing for greater optimization to continue improving the hospital´s functioning.

Is this the future of hospitals? Of course, if the phones have already invaded our lives, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that they will eventually reach the health environment, especially if, as is the case, it can result in better patient care. The technology is there, and as the Ottawa Hospital shows, it can be very beneficial if the existing processes are understood and technology is used to improve them.

Image | IBM

It wasn´t all easy. Supporting users who are constantly moving with their device is quite complicated. The solution was to set up mobile depots in the hospital where doctors could get help with their devices when they needed it, without having to make an appointment or stay in a concrete place.

The mHealth competence centre forms part of Mobile World Capital Barcelona’s Programme of International Competence Centers (PCCI). mHealth works with a three-fold objective: to identify mobile technology opportunities in the provision of health services, to transform current healthcare models and processes, and promote the interoperability of health services in the field of mobile technologies and connectivity, building foundations that make it possible to integrate mobile health solutions.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.

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