Survey: Hospitals' adoption of mobile strategies has doubled in the last five years

By Jonah Comstock
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In the last five years, the percentage of hospitals that have a mobile strategy has nearly doubled, from 34 percent in 2012 to 65 percent this year. That’s one of the more striking findings from a survey of 300 healthcare professionals conducted recently by clinical communications provider Spok. The survey included doctors, nurses, IT staff, executives, and others.

By virtue of having completed a similar survey in 2012, Spok’s numbers give us an interesting insight into how hospital mobile strategies have changed in the last five years.

A fifth of respondents said they had their mobile strategy in place for less than a year, but most (54 percent) had theirs in place for between one and five years. Of those who had their strategy in place more than a year, 70 percent reported that it had changed. The two biggest reasons for change were changes in the needs of end users (44 percent) and the availability of new mobile devices (35 percent). Twenty-six percent said their strategy had changed due to new features available from their EHR vendor.

“Organizations that began their journey even just two years ago are making modifications and revising guidelines because successful mobile strategies must evolve to retain relevance in an environment that changes so rapidly,” the company writes in its report. “We also expect to see more hospitals establishing dedicated, cross-functional teams with a singular focus on mobile enablement to oversee this evolution and to keep strategies and targeted goals up to date.”

The leadership of mobile projects has also changed a lot over the last five years. CIOs, doctors, and nurses are each around 10 percentage points more likely to be involved in mobile strategy. Outside consultants for mobile strategies have also become more popular, with 14 percent of respondents using them in 2012 and 21 percent this year. IT departments continue to be the main leaders, but their involvement is down slightly.

There still seems to be room for improvement in several areas of hospitals’ mobile strategies. A quarter of respondents said their mobile strategy existed, but wasn’t enforced. And only 32 percent said they had a formal process for evaluating the success of their mobile strategy. 

“Similar to monitoring and enforcement, measuring success is an important piece of a documented mobile strategy that may be overlooked in the early planning stages—but it should not be,” the report states. “Establishing quantifiable metrics at the outset defines what end results are being worked toward, from improving communications among doctors and nurses to improving patient satisfaction scores.”

In addition, many hospitals’ mobile strategies don’t line up with the organization’s overall strategic goals and some staff expressed frustration that not enough was being done to promote adoption of the hospital’s mobile offering for providers.