I’ve been a road warrior since I entered the workforce more than a decade ago. It’s hard to believe that just a short time ago, mobile devices were not prevalent. Back then, I didn’t have a smartphone, so if I was on the road all day, I could only check email sporadically. And, I actually had to PRINT out all of my directions to each meeting location (what a pain!). Over the last 10 years, with the increased popularity of mobile devices and smartphones, I can personally attest to how technology has changed my life. The smartphone has made me more productive due to quicker access to data such as being able to answer and address email requests in a quicker time frame. (Added bonus — the map feature on my smartphone means less of a chance for me to get lost due to incorrect printed directions.)

From a healthcare perspective, there’s no doubt mobile is changing the way healthcare is being obtained and delivered. From a clinical standpoint, mobile devices and tablets have supported clinical mobility to allow for clinicians and staff to be more productive, efficient, and treat patients faster and more accurately. Moving away from paper-based methodology has reduced the risk of error in diagnosis and improved workflow throughout many organizations.

Now, I’m seeing trending adoption of cloud-based applications layered upon mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets that further support the concepts of productivity and collaboration — whether that’s for internal (doctor-to-doctor) purposes or for external (doctor-to-patient) purposes such as when a doctor is on call or through virtual doctor visits. This mobile cloud access is especially growing in areas like senior care and home health. In fact, according to a recent survey, 30% of home health agencies say cloud-based tools and online platforms will help improve their businesses and their patient care. Key reasons include enabling on-the-go data access from more devices, automating complicated coding processes, and gathering and leveraging data.¹

While the device matters, equally important are the applications running on it. The beauty of SaaS or cloud-based applications is the ubiquitous experience, regardless of whether pulling up that application on a desktop or mobile device. The experience is seamless, and mobile has become the de facto way for many to access cloud applications. And that growth won’t be slowing down anytime soon. According to an IDC research report, all healthcare organizations are now on a journey to the cloud and by 2020, 80% of healthcare data will pass through the cloud at some point in its lifetime. In addition, recent Frost and Sullivan research predicts double-digit growth for healthcare cloud services in both the U.S. and Europe, with the market expected to hit $3.5 billion by 2020.

From a population standpoint, today an estimated 80% of online adults have smartphones.² Combine this with the forecasts for cloud growth and we can see the consumerization of IT and healthcare start to converge. Now, it’s a matter of harnessing the power of smartphones and tablets to give users more access to their information and on-demand services like virtual doctor visits and consults. This trend will grow even more as healthcare wearables continue to gain a foothold.

While there’s tremendous opportunity when it comes to mobile access to the cloud, it’s important to keep security top of mind. With more mobile devices accessing networks via the cloud, there are more opportunities for weaknesses to be exposed and hackers to take advantage. The good news is a researcher from the University of California Merced is on a mission to try to prevent these scenarios from happening by designing a new, lightweight encryption system for smartphones and tablets. You can read more about this new encryption method here.

Seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to mobile and the cloud.

Sources:

¹Kinnser Home Health Leaders Study, December 2014

²TechCrunch.com, January 2015

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