The Internet of Healthcare Things (IoHT) encompasses connected devices and wearable technologies that enable organizations to provide mobile healthcare and monitoring, biometric data collection, improved patient data management and real-time access to Electronic Health Records (EHRs).
While many hospitals and clinics are just starting to get their toes wet with IoHT technology solutions, others are taking their mobile workforce to the next level. Integrated solutions that connect healthcare workers to each other, their patients, EHR systems and partner organizations are enabling healthcare providers to transform patient care and streamline processes.
That’s the case with Geisinger Health System, which provides health services throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Geisinger, routinely mentioned with Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and Partners HealthCare as a model for the integrated health system, has consistenty stayed on the cutting edge of healthcare technology and patient engagement.
The organization was one of the first health systems to adopt EHRs. It was also one of the first three healthcare organziations in the U.S. to go live with OpenNotes — a program to make healthcare more transparent by urging care providers to share their visit notes with patients.
A couple of years on the heels of that, the health system developed Geisinger in Motion as part of a large-scale initiative to mobilize its workforce, unify communications between patients and their health teams, and extend services beyond the borders of a brick-and-mortar facility. The program includes a patient portal, patient mobile technology, clinician smart devices and a provider portal.
“Geisinger has embarked on a mission to deliver a personalized experience in all of its patient interactions. This means tailoring customer touchpoints based on communication preferences, behaviors and motivations,” explains Chanin Wendling, associate vice president of informatics and director of Geisinger in Motion, in a press release.
The initiative mobilizes physicians and nurses by equipping them with secure, mobile devices, giving them real-time access to patient records.
When Geisinger piloted the program, it partnered with Verizon for mobile services because Verizon provided the best coverage at Geisinger Medical Center, where the pilot was launched. But rather than contracting individual plans for each user, Geisinger negotiated a single plan for all users, making it easier to distribute devices and mobile management software.
Despite the greater burden for ensuring HIPAA privacy and confidentiality protections, Geisinger expanded coverage to allow for photos to accommodate the picture-taking capabilities of the apps used by physicians. Doctors can share photos of wounds, for example.
A typical use case for the portable devices is staff rounds on the hospital ward, where a screen display can remind physicians and residents of questions to ask each patient — without having to shuffle through paper charts.
Another advantage for clinicians is the ability to use the devices outside the hospital within a micro Virtual Private Network (VPN) that can secure a single clinical app without restricting use of consumer apps.
HIPAA-compliant, secure messaging is a critical component of Geisinger in Motion as it allows clinicians to communicate patient information — whether that includes a medical image or a text notation about a patient — to the entire care team.
Another significant, but often overlooked, feature of the platform is 24/7 clinician access to a library of previously underused resources, such as reference tools and calculators.
The same mobile infrastructure supports hospital-provided tablets or personal devices brought from home for patient engagement. For elective procedures, such as lumbar spine surgery, Geisinger provides patients with a tablet a couple of weeks prior to surgery and for 90 days following surgery.
Patients can view videos of their doctors explaining procedures, watch movies while recovering, check lab results and receive reminders to take medications and perform other therapy for three months after the procedure.
Geisinger’s improvements have transformed the patient experience, as well as the end-user experience of its clinicians. The key to this successful transformation lies in how the organization leverages mobile solutions to create a frictionless work environment that enables staff and physicians to focus on delivering care — rather than being distracted by complex technologies or clunky user interfaces.
By emulating Geisinger’s strategies, other healthcare organizations can drive greater employee satisfaction that will enable them to retain top talent, as well as design more productive workplaces that allow for expanding services to more patients.