As mobility becomes a core platform for healthcare communications and providers are increasingly integrating mHealth into their workflows, the management of those technologies has been slower to take shape-a critical oversight particularly in environments where medical staffs are using their own devices.

Merely supplying mobile technology to clinicians is not a mobile strategy. Case in point: A 2014 survey by IT staffing provider Robert Half Technology of chief information officers from across different industries found that the healthcare services sector had the greatest percentage of respondents (36 percent) reporting that their organizations has no mobile technology strategy.

"The challenge is figuring out the proper process for how you provision those devices," says Michael Prichard, co-founder and CTO of WillowTree Apps, a mobile strategy, design and development company. "It's all part of a bigger picture. There's the mobile device management piece. There's the network security piece. There's the app security piece. It's kind of a holistic approach."

"What are you actually building, and why are you doing it? That's the bigger question," argues Prichard. Aligning patients' and doctors' needs and objectives with the design and development of a mobile strategy is crucial to achieving the most beneficial results, he says, as is compliance with security and medical standards. According to Prichard, there are strategic steps to developing and implementing mHealth to ensure consistent management, access and data flow.

The problem is that healthcare organizations not only don't have a mobile strategy, but how they're handling mobility isn't aligned with IT or business needs. "What that tells me is that a lot of organizations are struggling and are being very reactive," says Sean Ginevan, director of business development for security and management platform MobileIron. "Figuring out your business goals will very quickly allow you to realize the technological and security architecture needed to make the program successful."

David Collins, senior director of mHIMSS, says his organization offers an online resource in the form of an mHealth Roadmap that includes information on implementation guidelines for mobile strategies and applications.

"There are a lot of high-level principles that people need to adhere to as they roll out mobile technology and integrate it into their healthcare workflows," urges Collins. "It's about taking control and drawing a line in the sand as to how they are going to use the devices on the network and how they're going to handle it if there is a data breach."

“Managing Mobility,” Greg Slabodkin’s feature story in the October issue of Health Data Management, is available here in a printable format.

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