Why Technology Is Part Of The Patient Support System

By Victoria Smith – Healthcare Practice Lead, EMEIA, Jamf (www.jamf.com)

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that all aspects of health- care have had to rethink the way in which they operate to reduce the contagious nature of the coronavirus and reserve space for those who are extremely ill.

For those with other ailments, technology has played an important role in helping our health- care system to remain connected in delivering care, tracking the progress of those patients and even helping patients to communicate with their family and friends while in

self-isolation. Carers, in particular have been tasked with not only promoting the recovery of Covid patients with other professionals but in continuing to deliver daily support for those with longer-term health needs such as looking after someone with a mental health problem or learning difficulties. So how can they provide necessary care while protecting themselves and their patients from the virus?

One way is through the use of everyday consumer devices such as Apple iPhones and iPads and innovative device management solutions that have created virtual visiting features as a way to remain connected with the patients and their families. (www.jamf.com/lp/jamf-pro)

PROVIDING STABILITY TO PATIENTS

With both time and financial resources constrained, it’s important that the healthcare industry leverages familiar and readily available devices – which even patients may have at home. For example with iPads, various teleconferencing apps can be configured and deployed to patients without needing to touch the devices. With third-party tools such as Zoom, WebEx and Microsoft Teams, carers can virtually enter the room on days they do not need to be present with their patients, to provide support as well as speak to more patients on any given day. This would provide the necessary stability to patients during a particularly stressful time.

SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH TECHNOLOGY

Hospital visits are inherently stressful for patients as they may feel isolated and disconnected from their loved ones. According to a survey run by the Academy of Medical Sciences, among 2,100 people, including those that have mental-health conditions, there were concerns about accessing support and services during the pandemic, as well as the fear that their existing health problems might worsen. The long-term impact of the pandemic is unknown but through technology solutions, the healthcare industry can provide services to help mitigate patients at risk. With the use of virtual visiting technology and communication tools, anxiety can be alleviated and can keep patients apprised of all information on their diagnosis and care plan, as well as in contact with their family and friend support system.

Easy to use tablets, such as iPads, provide patients with a robust device that doesn’t necessarily need any additional training to use or manuals to read. Compatibility with other health apps and fitness trackers mean the patient can also support with data entry and when paired with a specific Apple device and app management solution, IT teams can roll out different apps to meet patient needs as well as digitally sterilise shared devices to ensure there is no data residue from the previous patient to keep devices secure.

DELIVERING ACCESS

Carers all preform different tasks and therefore require apps that are unique to their role. This is where mobile device management (MDM) is required to help IT administrators to manage and secure the entire fleet of devices within a hospital or care home. Each managed device can be configured remotely and delivered with the exact tools needed for the practitioner, carer or patient, remotely, quickly and efficiently. This is particularly important in times where roles and responsibilities of carers may have shifted to cope with the crisis and devices have needed to be delivered in the hands of the patient or staff at scale.

In addition, once set up and installed, devices managed by an MDM solution will be able to receive app or system updates as soon as they are available, to help continue reducing the risk of COVID-19 and protecting the patient’s personal data.

SECURING PATIENT DATA

Cybersecurity remains a top priority as 67% of UK healthcare organisations experienced some kind of cyber security incident during 2019. The primary causes of the data breach were identified as third-party devices such as USB thumb drives and IoT devices. With telehealth and virtual care becoming a permanent reality, security needs to be at the forefront of patient experience and that means protecting any portable devices.

While smartphone manufacturers like Apple, have taken rigorous steps to prevent breaches, including pre-installed security apps and TouchID, several layers of additional security is still required in order to protect patient and care home data. A specialised security solution with Apple-specific threat detection, can support carers and care homes by providing visibility into which third-party devices are being connected to the system – from locking down any unnecessary access to end points as well as detecting potential threats. IT teams can then remotely wipe a device and delete apps, as well as any saved log-in credentials from one central location at the click of a button. As a result, patients and carers can remain secure and connected with practitioners and loved ones.

Giving employees access to specific files and documents will be important as carers move between virtual and in-person meetings but it’s critical that the devices are not passed through many hands to pre- vent the spread of virus. Each department and staff member can be delivered pre-authorised access, so sensitive information remains in the relevant hands. This can be achieved quickly through a one-click approach using a MDM solution.

The recent health crisis has accelerated the use of portable devices and technology features such as virtual visitations has helped to keep patients support in their time of need – where ever the patient may be. Through virtual visitations, carers can continue to monitor patient well- being, identifying any concerns that can be quickly elevated to the care home or hospital. It’s important that as care is provided, patient and hospital data remains safe and secure and this is where a specialised device and app management can help to not only reduce efforts but introduce new innovative ways of working.

About the Author:

Victoria has worked within the healthcare industry for more than 20 years, 14 of which were with the NHS. In her previous role, Victoria oversaw the procurement processes and contracts for Oxford Health NHS Foundation and was responsible for all frontline IT services, including the enrolment of a mobile device team and solutions. It is here where she regularly tackled the challenges of digitising the NHS for the benefit of IT, clinicians and patients and saw first-hand the impact that compliance, security and funding can have on employee and patient experience.

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