Authored By John Hansen, Director of Product Management, Synapse VNA

The mobile workforce has arrived in healthcare. Smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous in the workplace and are increasingly being used at the point of care. Meanwhile, healthcare organizations are increasingly investing in vendor neutral archive (VNA) technology to embark on their enterprise imaging journey and have recognized mobile solutions for point-of-care imaging is an essential aspect of their strategy. 

These enterprise imaging strategies must account for  mobile solutions capturing images at the point-of-care. Thinking about the convergence of mobile and enterprise imaging, here are three areas of importance, and what to look for in a well-designed solution to capture images at the point-of-care.

1. Improve Productivity. Health care professionals are some of the most patient and compassionate people on earth, but not when it comes to dealing with poorly designed software applications that slow them down, add steps and are frustrating to use.

Software solutions intended for use by health care professionals must be intuitive,  elegantly simple to use, require minimal training and enhance productivity. The software should be harmonized to the workflow at the point-of-care, rather than requiring the care provider to conform to a poorly designed workflow built into the applications.

Speed to the ‘capture flow’ with the fewest clicks and steps possible are essential. The time between when a care provider decides to capture point-of-care images to the time when they are capturing images should be as instantaneous as possible. For example, this may start  with facial recognition or touch ID for authentication. Manual entry of username & password is a productivity killer at the point-of-care.

Manual patient lookup is another productivity killer. An intelligent, department-specific, easily navigable patient list is preferred. The patient list should be encounters-based and not require orders to be placed ahead of time. Alternatively, a barcode scan is also preferred over manual patient lookups.

Once in the capture flow, applications need to enable the user to do everything quickly and seamlessly in a single experience to improve productivity. For example, a form should be provided to capture supporting documentation such as body site, clinical notes and observations at the point-of-care. We shouldn’t force the care provider to capture images in one place and document those images in another.

2. Improve Care. The ultimate objective of any point-of-care solution should be to improve patient care. If implemented properly, mobile solutions to capture patient photos, videos and audio clips at the point-of-care can positively impact care. 

Care providers require access to imaging from across the enterprise to see the full patient picture so they can make better informed decisions on behalf of their patients. This includes images taken at the point-of-care. For maximum benefit, this content must be available in the context of the patient record in the EHR, be easily accessible to the care team, and include body site labeling for those close up photos where it may be difficult to discern the body site and laterality.

3. Risk Reduction. Simply enter ‘HIPAA data breach’ into your favorite search engine and you’ll get the idea. HIPAA data breaches (and corresponding lawsuits and fines) can be costly to healthcare providers and tarnish their reputation in their markets.

Increased security and risk reduction are a major aspect of the overall VNA value proposition and securing the mobile workforce is a win-win for the organization.

In absence of a secure mobile application, care providers may be tempted to use the native features of their own device resulting in PHI on their device which exposes the organization to risk. A well designed mobile capture solution should ensure no PHI is stored on the mobile device thereby eliminating the risk of PHI leaving the premises inadvertently. 

Healthcare organizations have seen for some time the introduction of mobile image capture during patient procedures. What has been missing are the workflows and solutions to support these images being accounted for in the patient record. With a valued partner and an overall enterprise imaging strategy, the VNA can provide seamless solutions to the end user to capture, store and manage these images, all in a secure location- which in the end are accessible throughout your organization in the EHR.