Mobile Adoption In Clinical Settingsā€”Supporting Workflow to Deliver High Value Patient Care: A Calgary Scientific White Paper


In a 2016 survey, 83 percent of physicians who own smartphones reported using them at least once in a clinical setting and 97 percent said their smartphone’s greatest benefit is fast access to information.1 These powerful, compact mobile tools bring a multitude of additional benefits to clinical care settings, including simple, mobile access to diagnostic tools and efficient provider-to-provider communications.

Mobile adoption continues to grow because it offers relevant, secure and timely access to clinical content. Mobile devices drive new, more efficient workflows in which content is delivered to tablets and smartphones via data centres and cloud-based web services, providing clinicians with anytime, anywhere access to patient data regardless of their location.

The extent to which caregivers can use their smartphones and tablets in these ways, however, varies broadly between hospitals and healthcare systems, and even among departments at individual hospitals. While many providers have individual pilot programs and projects that use web and mobile devices in place, the majority are still early in the adoption process, developing strategies and policies for smartphone and tablet use in clinical settings. Published research reviews and surveys also point to the need for further study of how mobile devices impact workflow and outcomes.


The broad ranging discussions of this research address mobile device adoption and its benefits for patient care delivery. These discussions bring the following points to the forefront:

•    While opinions differ on when mobile devices will be widely adopted, these experts agree that the future of patient care delivery will be mobile. The smartphones and tablets already in the hands of patients and providers offers a ready-made platform that meets healthcare reform’s need for patient engagement and coordinated care solutions.
•    Mobile devices in clinical settings offer a path to rationalizing and synchronizing the integration of health IT with clinical workflow. Physicians are mobile workers and their tools need to be mobile as well.
•    Institutional support for the use of mobile devices to deliver clinical care is necessary to ease the integration of health IT with physician workflow. Ad hoc support for such uses as remote access to patient data or after hours support for doctors on call is not enough to realize the broad benefits that mobile devices make possible.

This paper summarizes this expert commentary on the current state of mobile use in clinical settings, including specific hospital and health system examples. While in some cases mobile workflow has been implemented enterprise wide, few providers have the opportunity to eliminate current health IT systems and implement entirely new systems.

Healthcare institutions have spent millions on electronic health records (EHR) and now require new clinical tools that seamlessly integrate into their EHR investment. The paper’s conclusion offers an approach and framework for integrating mobile devices with existing health IT infrastructures.

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