Several weeks ago I commented about the Mobile Healthcare Revolution. Significant progress is being made. The range of applications and services to choose from is exploding. Applications target consumers, physicians, and just about anyone with interest or involvement in healthcare. Almost all of these mobile applications run on Android, Microsoft, and iOS consumer platforms. However I think consumer devices fall short in terms of reliability, durability, and longevity when compared to purpose built healthcare endpoints.
You will see what I mean by examining some of the technical specifications for existing built for purpose devices used by healthcare workers for voice and data communication. Wireless purpose built healthcare endpoints from manufacturers such as Spectralink and Ascom commonly comply with specifications designed to promote reliability and longevity such as:
- IP Ratings designating resistance to dust, water, and contaminants
- Power: establishing batter life , charge time, talk time, and replacement capabilities
- Mil Std 810Fdesignating shock and impact resistance
Unfortunately, all of these devices rely on proprietary operating systems. Virtually none of the mobile applications developed fortoday’s smart phone healthcare users operate on today’s in-building wireless purpose built healthcare endpoints.
Granted, a number of small companies now offer smart phone cases to guard against some of the physical abuse which is bound to occur in hospital and clinic settings. Lifeproof is one of the companies making specialty cases for iOS and Android devices. Cases with built-in batteries are also available to extend operating time. However none of these solutions address the issue of longevity. The consumer smart phone life cycle is about 2 years. That pales in comparison to the 6 – 8 year life cycle of today’s purpose built healthcare endpoints.
Healthcare professionals need a new breed of in-building wireless communication devices to support their mobile communication needs. Like their predecessors, the next generation of purpose built devices must obviously operate on existing in-building Wi-Fi systems and provide high quality voice as well as data services. In addition to the expected durability, reliability, and longevity of their commercial predecessors, they must support today’s modern operating systems (e.g., Android) so that healthcare professionals can take advantage of the increasing number of mobile applications targeted at improving productivity and the quality of care.
Once purpose built healthcare endpoints supporting modern operating systems become practical, healthcare professionals will truly have a world of applications and collaboration tools that meet their needs for highly reliable, user friendly communication devices. And healthcare providers will see value and cost savings by adopting purpose built voice/data endpoints that deliver the reliability and longevity not available with consumer products.
I know I’m dreaming of the future, and I don’t have a crystal ball. Even though our corporate tagline happens to be “5 Years Out” and there are some really cool videos about it, I think the future is much closer.