April 19, 2013
One area that needs as much technological help to drive efficiencies within it is healthcare. Anyone who has bounced between doctors, specialists and different hospital departments knows just how broken the health system is – while Michael Moore famously pointed out the failings of the US health system, it’s fair to say that inefficiency plagues health systems globally. The health system is one place that mobile devices, and mobile accessibility of integrated data, is incredibly valuable.
It’s clear that the applications of mobility in healthcare are significant. From allowing nurses to check vital signs or to review prescription status via smartphones to enabling doctors to view medical imaging or patient histories on tablets. In nearly every role and in nearly every area, mobility has the potential to optimize patient care. But despite the potential, the health sector is one place that fundamentals conspire to make widespread use of mobile devices difficult:
- Extraordinary government regulations
- The inherent autonomous nature of healthcare
- Intense and growing cost-control pressures
Faced with the pretty extreme (and, to be fair, generally justified) focus that HIPAA strictly enforces when it comes to privacy, the challenge of mobile device management can seem unsolvable. So it was interesting the other day to hear about some initiatives that Xerox (remember them?) are introducing in the mobile device management (MDM) space, specifically aimed at the healthcare sector. Xerox’s MDM solution is a private-cloud hosted application that offers device configuration, monitoring of compliance and security policies and a secure app store-like site where users can download approved applications.
What is interesting about this offering however, is that it is pitched as a service + consulting model. Xerox has a consulting division full of healthcare experts that helps healthcare organizations develop the policies and deploy the solution to deliver MDM. The Xerox service includes:
- Solution architecture design and MDM implementation
- Active directory integration for automated device life cycle management
- Automated provisioning
- Data encryption enforcement
- Over-the-air configuration
- Private application catalog or store
- Usage monitoring
- Administrator training and role-based established
- System management, usage and service quality monitoring
- Compliance auditing and reporting
There’s no denying that two of the biggest areas that technology in general, and cloud in particular, can offer transformational value to the world are education, and health. But at the same time as the value is being articulated, barriers arise, both in terms of regulation such as HIPAA, and cultural aspects from reluctance of IT departments or end users. Clearly the way to resolve these tensions is to deliver solutions that enable end-user access to data, while doing so within the requirements of legislation and policy. Mobile access, and hence mobile data management, is a core part of this enablement.
Every vendor under the sun offers a mobile device management solution – it really is following in the footsteps of VDI-hype of yesterday. But the reality is that all the solutions under the sun don’t help when an organization is facing a cultural shift that puts new demands on their IT infrastructure. By building a consulting practice on top of a MDM product platform, Xerox has smartly removed one of the main barriers to adoption – and by offering product and consulting from one organization they significantly lubricate the on-ramp for healthcare organizations.
Of course the ability of any solution to really offer the benefits to the end users lies in the ability of the vendor to deliver a solution, in a timely manner and at a realistic price. All too often large vendors make announcements that are just that, vapor-fuelled and little else. The fact however that Xerox has both a product offering and a large consulting practice that delivers solutions to the healthcare sector gives me significant comfort – I’m looking forward to revisiting Xerox’s MDM portfolio in a year or so to see how well it’s being adopted at the coalface.