When your practice or hospital successfully has implemented an Electronic Health Record, there is another question you should ask yourself. Do we want to implement the use of mobile devices? The best answer would be “Yes!” Ideally, every physician should have a mobile device, especially since the advent of electronic documentation requires everyone have access to a computer for charting. Most hospitals have implemented policies requiring the nursing staff perform their charting at the patient’s bedside. However, there are still occasions when there may be no open computers for the physician to use. This is a situation when a mobile device can really help out.

Mobile devices are a means of making patient care more practical for the physician. Instead of logging into the computer in every patient’s room; the physician can simply carry around a mobile device and read a patient’s chart while they are walking into the exam room. This saves time because it allows the practitioner to spend more time with the patient instead of wasting time looking for information in the medical record.

So now that we are going to use a mobile device, who is going to provide it? This is a question that every practice or hospital administrator must face next. The physicians want to go mobile, but sometimes the cost of providing mobile devices and supporting them can be too much for a practice or small hospital. As the practice or hospital administrator, you do have a choice. You can provide the mobile device for the physicians and absorb the cost or you can allow the physicians to bring their own device. Each option presents unique problems that must be addressed. Let’s look at the problems that arise from physicians providing their own mobile devices.

Some physicians prefer to bring their own mobile device. Each device is different in the way it operates or the size of the screen it has. Physicians do not want to take the time to learn multiple devices. They want to become familiar with only one. Although this is convenient for the physician, it can present problems for the IT staff. In the case that the physicians of the practice or hospital disagree on which particular device to use, the IT staff will have to support multiple devices. This will not only require IT staff to know how to troubleshoot the various devices, but also how to set them up to maintain security of protect patient data. Even though it may be a headache now, the use of mobile devices is the wave of the future that will provide better patient care.

The best thing to do now is to start planning for the implementation of these devices. This includes making sure that the appropriate policies and procedures are in place to support these devices. If you need help on the policies, the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) have developed a mobile security and privacy toolkit to assist you in creating these policies. As soon as you get these policies in place, you can begin making a seamless transition to the use of mobile devices.