There are two things you need to know about EHR mobility right off the bat.
First, It’s more important than ever. And second, it’s no longer just about having remote access to an EHR.
EHR mobility can now describe a wide range of dynamic functionality. However, it can still carry a rather basic connotation as far as features are concerned. Not too long ago, simply being able to access an EHR on a mobile phone or tablet was enough to put a system ahead of the crowd.
What sets an EHR apart from others nowadays is a mobile experience that offers both users and patients full functionality anywhere, anytime. General mobile access is no longer the benchmark.
When searching for a software solution, you should always inquire about the extent of a vendor’s mobility capabilities to see where their system falls on this spectrum.
To help you make an informed decision, we’ve examined what modern EHR mobility looks like, and how it makes a difference for a provider’s operational and treatment success.
EHR Mobility in Behavioral Health
It used to be that you’d only get the best EHR performance when using a desktop at your facility, which raises two issues:
- Sitting at a desk just isn’t the nature of the job in behavioral health
- Users now have an appetite for intuitive technology
The clinical environment is hectic and fast-paced and an EHR’s tools should reflect that. The system shouldn’t dictate how (or where) your staff completes their tasks, it should facilitate those tasks by adapting to and enhancing your process.
And in 2020, the average person has some degree of proficiency with, and reliance on, technology.
From a software vendor perspective, this has been an exciting development. The world’s general technological advances have primed our clients as educated consumers. Now that there’s a smartphone in our users’ pockets, they’re able to better understand and embrace all types of intuitive, automated, mobile tech.
It allows us to be even more creative with our software solutions and to leverage the most powerful tech when refining our EHR.
So, how can an EHR vendor navigate this confluence of provider needs and evolving user preferences?
Sometimes, the best explanation is an example.
Let’s look at the realities of an inpatient or residential clinic. Doctors and nurses are constantly on the move, tending to patients, doing rounds, and a million other things.
They rarely have an extra second to spend sitting in front of a screen during the day, but also have a variety of tasks to complete in the system. This is a paradox that dynamic mobility features can help solve.
Ideally, an EHR vendor can precisely tailor its software to an organization’s current process. If a staff member is doing rounds, then they require mobility tools to match that need, like using a tablet to work in the EHR on the go.
And, for this mobility to enhance the overall workflow, a clinician must be able to use the EHR to its fullest extent as they go room to room. The software should be both user-friendly and comprehensive enough to perform any task they need to during their rounds, such as doing bed checks or administering meds.
In this way, the software’s mobile features allow the clinician to leverage a mobile device in a way that specifically facilitates their daily tasks and behaviors.
The dynamic mobility we’re explaining here is a great example of the extra step that modern mobility has taken in the last 5 years or so.
However, there is a spectrum of EHR mobility. Whereas the example above represents a very modern, comprehensive mobile software, more minor features are still critical in the overall treatment environment.
For example, another key tool is a mobile-enabled kiosk feature for check-in efficiency.
These features most commonly run on a tablet and are used for checking in patients during intake, or checking patients in for individual appointments. It’s something that can refine and automate a provider’s admissions workflows.
It’s also common for behavioral health professionals to go offsite at times.
Whether that’s to deliver treatment or otherwise, they should be able to trust that wherever they go, they’ll be able to access a fully functional platform.
To borrow a phrase we use internally here at Sigmund that wraps up these ideas of mobility – the best EHRs are “device agnostic.” That means that no matter the preferred or required mobile device used to access the EHR, the system can run smoothly and completely on it.
That functionality is even more critical since COVID-19 forced the healthcare system to pivot to virtual and remote care environments. Providers and patients need the option to deliver and receive quality treatment outside of the office.
EHR Mobility and Patient Engagement
The other crucial aspect of EHR mobility to consider is how a provider can communicate with their patients outside of the practice, most often via a patient portal.
Patients need to be engaged how they want, in the ways that meet their tech appetites and acumen. Accessing the patient portal is an important step in any modern treatment experience. Providers must be able to offer some flexibility in the formats patients can access it.
Some patients may not have a desktop or laptop. They should be able to have the same, full EHR experience on whatever alternative device they use.
Another mobile engagement necessity is the ability to push text notifications for appointment reminders or send information to a patient’s phone.
As we said, EHR users are more plugged in than ever. As younger generations begin to take control over their health care, they should be able to engage their providers in the ways they prefer, such as canceling an appointment via text rather than calling on the phone.
Mobile EHR Software: Further Education
Over the last 16 years, we’ve found that EHR mobility standards evolve as technology is improved in the world around us. We’ve made an effort to embrace these tech advances and use them to build an ever-improving EHR experience for our patients.
One of the most current tech advances you may have noticed is the emergence of telehealth due to COVID-19. Telehealth has become a vital mobile, remote, and virtual software solution that has been critical in managing the risk of COVID-19.
EHR vendors with robust mobility tools were able to easily plug a video-conferencing tool into their platform, whereas that quick adoption was more difficult for less mobile-enabled platforms.
In this way, the telehealth boom was another reminder that keeping our software fresh and innovative prepares us for whatever innovation is around the corner. And that, of course, allows us to deliver the best solutions possible to our clients so they can deliver excellent treatment to their patients.