Belinda Hayes is vice president and general manager, mobile products, of Imprivata of Lexington, MA.
Mobile technologies improve the way care providers communicate and collaborate on patient information and how they provide patient care. Almost every provider is armed with a smartphone that they use to communicate patient information, so we enable them to do that securely and for free.
However, it’s not just about the providers and how they access and share information. It’s about the entire ecosystem of healthcare professionals, like technicians, hospice workers, EMTs, etc. Mobile technologies have the potential to transform healthcare communication across boundaries that traditional communication could not.
These opportunities are not without challenges. Information is always at risk of becoming stove-piped or siloed. How do you take patient information from all these independent clinical systems and create a holistic view of a patient record? How do you decide what goes into the EMR? At what point does a medical record leave the EMR? Who has access to it and how is that tracked? How can that information be viewed across devices and clinical workflows?
Many hospitals restrict who can use smartphones today. Nurses may not have access to smartphones, for example, so mobile solution providers may need to support other forms of access, such as browsers. You’ve got to not only cover all relevant new devices, but give options for information access to the right people wherever its need.
The end of hospital pagers seems near. What will differentiate the products that are competing to replace them?
We hear this consistent theme from our customers. Smartphones will replace pagers. Providers are consumers just like you and me. They want the same experience communicating with their clinical team as they do with their kids. They want to use the latest technology. It complements our work and personal lives – we do our banking, schedule meetings, text our family, and communicate socially from our smartphones.
Providers want to similarly communicate with patients using their device. But it’s more than analog communication. It’s about collaboration. For example when a physician wants to communicate a patient’s status to a colleague, they first need to find a call list, then a phone, send a page to a different device, and wait around for a callback. This is terribly inefficient. Why is healthcare still relying on technology created over half a century ago?
Care providers want and deserve a better experience and pagers are limited. Pagers can’t provide you with a list of all your colleagues synced from the organizations directory. Pagers can’t see your colleagues’ status or send them a picture. Pagers can’t send group messages with conversation history and bridge communication across affiliated hospitals. Mobile phones and applications can. This experience, availability, and costs are driving providers to replace pagers with smartphones today.
What’s the business case for Imprivata Cortext?
Imprivata is fortunate to have a customer base of over 1,300 hospitals for our access management products. We frequently speak with our customers’ CIOs and clinical leadership about the next big thing. What problems are they facing? What is their long-term strategy and how does technology support it?
About a year ago, we heard an overwhelming need for secure texting from many of these customers. We ran our own survey across our base and found that over 81 percent of physicians have smartphones and 40 percent of physicians are already texting. CIOs told us this was a big risk that needed to be addressed. We launched our solution, called Imprivata Cortext, in October of this past year, and the response has been overwhelming. The application is completely free, including basic support, but we offer paid premium support options. We’re adding over 100 healthcare organizations a month and ended 2012 with over 400 enrolled in just three months.
We’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years in healthcare. It’s like no other industry. You have to nail the experience. We invest a lot of time talking to customers. Listening to what they need and collaborating with them early in and throughout the product design process. Care providers love Imprivata Cortext because it lets them communicate more efficiently. There is much more to secure texting than just a text message. A good solution will meet the basic requirements. But a great solution is actually built by clinicians, for clinicians. Its value will be self-evident to them.
For example, we found that a simple task such as locating a clinician on a phone wasn’t so simple. It needed to be easy and seamlessly incorporate the hospital’s corporate directory so providers can find one another with as few clicks as possible. It also must support group communication so that care teams can collaborate efficiently. And most importantly, it needs to enable providers to communicate across all of the healthcare organizations at which they work – all from a single application.
CIOs tell us they love Imprivata Cortext because it’s not only technically secure, but we back it up with a business associate agreement. There are many vendors in the space that call themselves “HIPAA compliant” but won’t back that up with a BAA. Our customers also care about where we are taking Imprivata Cortext. Texting solutions must provide a robust platform so that providers can support the evolving needs in healthcare such as the patient engagement requirements in Meaningful Use. Interoperability with clinical systems is critical.
What lessons about physician usage and preferences have been learned by their use of mobile devices that could be applied to other IT systems?
Physicians no longer work at one location. In fact we just did a study that shows over 50 percent of providers state they work at more than one location. Providers travel between their affiliated hospitals and practices, from nursing homes to even a patient’s home. So the power of mobile devices is the personal nature of the device. The power of mobile applications is that they enable you to be fully connected at all times. Now the only issue is how you bridge the desktop and the mobile device.
Let’s pretend a physician is treating a patient at the bedside and is viewing their current patient history. They need to get a consult from the patient’s specialist, which means they need to communicate directly with that clinician, sometimes in the form or an e-mail or text message. How do they compose that information? How do they transmit it securely? What if they want to add a photo, or video or audio of the patient’s heartbeat?
Smartphones have the potential to complement workflows that are today done from a workstation. This is what we’ve learned over the last 10 years from experience and a deep understanding of healthcare workflows. IT systems must bridge this gap. They must provide care providers with the ability to share and add to information from wherever they are. And do it securely.
We incorporated this thinking into the latest release of Cortext, which we announced last week at HIMSS. We designed a new capability that enables care providers to communicate across multiple organizations while still viewing a unified inbox of all their conversations. We heard loud and clear that IT wants to manage their own user policies and archives, but we had to balance that with a streamlined experience for the care providers. Early customer feedback is very positive.
Clinicians have embraced mobile technology, but hospital and medical practice systems don’t necessarily support those platforms very well. What’s the future for mobile-enabling enterprise applications?
There is a perfect storm happening in healthcare IT. On one front, you’ve got an industry that has been a slow adopter of technology, but HITECH and Meaningful Use have changed the game. Meaningful Use incentives have funded CIOs with investments to refresh their infrastructure. Not only are they deploying better EHRs and other clinical applications but the computing infrastructure is going virtual. Virtual desktops offer unique benefits to clinical workflows. You also have care providers and patients demanding and adopting technologies that they use in their everyday lives, like iPhones and iPads. Doctors and nurses are driving the BYOD revolution in healthcare.
Clinical applications have to incorporate mobile technology or their solutions won’t be complete and compete long-term. This idea that the EMR is the single-source of all information clinical is starting to change now that mobile applications are processing PHI. This needs to be part of the patient record. This provides a great opportunity for innovation. Take Imprivata Cortext. The concern around secure texting didn’t just happen. IT knew that their providers were already texting. Why? Because the convenience of communicating with their colleagues from their personal device greatly outweighed whether it was secure or not. Care will always trump security. Less than 24 months later, we are in a tornado of a market with over 30 vendors trying to solve the secure texting problem in healthcare. And in two years this number will be three or less. We like our odds with Imprivata Cortext.