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Clinical Mobility 2018

Clinical Mobility 2018
Leveraging a Smartphone Strategy

Authored by: Paul Hess and Jonathan Christensen February 20, 2018 | Read Time: 3  minutes

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Smartphones are becoming increasingly common, and healthcare organizations often lack a strategy on how to best leverage these powerful devices. This report, KLAS’ first on smartphones, sets out to clarify common strategies in healthcare (see chart at right). Which vendors are most prevalent as shared- or personal-use devices? What are vendors’ key strengths and weaknesses in healthcare? How have organizations successfully incorporated BYOD into their strategy?

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smartphones in healthcare

Shared-Use Phones: Apple’s Inadequacies Giving Rise to Zebra, Other Brands


Shared-use smartphones—which are checked out to care team members—can consolidate the clinician toolbelt (pagers, wireless phones, barcode scanners) and create efficiencies by enabling mobile access to patient data. As the first smartphone, Apple had a head start as a shared-use device. Older generation iPhones (pre-6s) are most prevalent but have the most shortcomings for rounding workflows. Newer iPhones/applications can solve some existing problems (like Wi-Fi connectivity and native camera barcode scanning), yet other issues remain (see table below). Few have adopted these latest models due to cost, and some have decided to replace older models with Zebra (previously Motorola), a healthcare-grade alternative. Also, two prominent EHR and secure communications vendors now favor Zebra over Apple due to Apple’s inadequacies. Zebra’s MC40 phones provide better durability and an integrated scanner, and Zebra’s newly released TC51-HC is lighter and faster than the MC40. Other healthcare-grade smartphones, like Ascom, Honeywell, and Spectralink, each have challenges and fewer customers to date. Samsung, like Apple, is not healthcare grade and has little consideration.

shared use smartphones deployments and considerations

Shared-Use Vendor Strengths and Weaknesses

Of the vendors used in a shared-use environment, only Apple and Samsung were designed for personal use. For additional insights on Apple and Samsung pertaining to personal-use devices, see the sections below.

shared use vendor strengths and weaknesses

Personal-Use Phones: Apple a Must; Samsung Sometimes


Corporate-issued personal-use devices (used mainly by physicians and management) do not need to be healthcare grade as they are used mostly for team communication and off-site EMR access. Purchasing decisions are driven by user preference (similar to BYOD), and Apple is overwhelmingly the preferred brand. Nearly every organization that issues personal-use phones offers Apple. Half also offer Samsung, but almost exclusively as a secondary device—few feel they could offer only Samsung without strong opposition. However, supplementing Apple with a BYOD strategy that allows for other devices is a popular alternative.

personal use smartphones deployments and considerations

While initial purchasing for personal-use smartphones was driven by user preference, some organizations are reevaluating their strategy based on Apple’s and Samsung’s strengths and weaknesses for personal use. Apple’s usability and broad application library are key strengths. Its ease of use limits configurability; however, IT professionals say this makes the device more secure. Customers report issues with iOS system updates breaking apps and with poor Wi-Fi connectivity when roaming in a hospital environment—challenges not experienced with Samsung. Samsung’s flexibility, on the other hand, makes it more difficult to secure and makes it less intuitive for the less technical user.

which smartphone vendor do you use

Traits of a Successful BYOD Program


Whether or not oversight is provided, employees’ personal phones are being used to access and share PHI. A BYOD program helps keep these devices HIPAA compliant. BYOD can replace corporate-issued, personal-use smartphones but should not be used to replace corporate-issued, shared-use devices, which must be healthcare grade. Successful BYOD programs include:


byod vs personal use smartphones securing personal health information phi

Benefits of Smartphone Use in Healthcare

KLAS asked organizations what their motivations were for purchasing smartphones. These are the most frequently mentioned for shared-use and personal-use devices.

most desired capabilities
most frequently replaced devices
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This material is copyrighted. Any organization gaining unauthorized access to this report will be liable to compensate KLAS for the full retail price. Please see the KLAS DATA USE POLICY for information regarding use of this report. © 2020 KLAS Research, LLC. All Rights Reserved. NOTE: Performance scores may change significantly when including newly interviewed provider organizations, especially when added to a smaller sample size like in emerging markets with a small number of live clients. The findings presented are not meant to be conclusive data for an entire client base.