For Tidewell Hospice, an independent, not-for-profit organization in Florida, time is of the essence. Offering a home-based, total support system for those living with advanced illness, Tidewell helps more than 8,000 patients annually, all of whom have one year or less to live.
Along with an expansion of care, Tidewell needed to streamline business processes so that clinical staff could take care of what is really important — offering relief to individuals during their final stage of life. “When a nurse is staring at a laptop for two hours, she is not attending to patients,” said David Lafferty, CIO, in an interview with Mobile Enterprise
Founded in 1980, the organization continues to grow, providing compassion and quality of life for those with cancer, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, renal failure and ALS, among other fatal illnesses.
Initially a BlackBerry shop, Tidewell had concerns about the changing mobile device landscape. Where was BlackBerry going? How long would they be around? Not certain about that platform’s future, and with an increased desire to leverage mobility based apps, Tidewell decided to slowly phase out BlackBerry in favor of Android tablets and smartphones.
First, however, security had to be addressed. The health industry in general is stricter than other sectors when it comes to compliance, with severe penalties. “It’s not enough to say anymore that we didn’t know patient information was on the device,” Lafferty said. If a cell phone has access to patient records, and the device is lost and data compromised, the minimum fine can be anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation.
After reviewing mobile device management (MDM) solutions, Tidewell selected MobileIron for both corporate-owned and personal devices that access corporate data. As part of the solution, the vendor provides remote lock and wipe, and enforces polices such as device-level encryption, passcode lock and overall security.
With both an MDM solution and a BYOD policy in place, Tidewell is now able to accommodate senior level executives and other C-suite members who have a desire to use their personal devices for work related purposes. Due to regulatory reasons though, health personnel for the most part, can’t be part of the program, with exception of a few staff members who are approved on an individual basis.
Lafferty estimates that there is an 84% savings projected per employee just for this aspect alone. In addition, another MobileIron benefit is the ability to evaluate and add new smartphones and tablets as the organization needs. (Currently Tidewell uses devices for about 24 months.)
Ready, Set, Deploy
With security requirements sufficiently addressed, Tidewell suddenly had a robust platform for mobile app development. “We can now deploy apps that previously could not be deployed due to Android malware,” Lafferty explained.
Partnering with a third party, Tidewell created an app to improve the scheduling/dispatch process for triage nurses. These particular nurses work overnight to visit patients at their homes or critical care facilities. The challenge, in this case, was response time, especially since the organization serves four counties, covering 3,000 square miles.
“When a family member requests a nurse to visit their loved one, how long does it take to identify which nurses are working, where are they geographically located?” Lafferty asked. The proprietary app, built to specification, addressed these questions and streamlined the process as a result.
That is just one example of improved efficiency, and clearly shows how security has enabled mobility for Tidewell. In a strictly regulated sector, this hospice provider would not have been able to deploy an app without that pivotal mobile device protocol in place.
Even if Lafferty was in a different industry, he would still implement the same MDM strategy before leveraging mobile apps. Why? “I would be concerned about data leakage,” he replied, adding, “I don’t care how cool some of the apps may be, and I’ve seen some really cool ones. Without the security, I wouldn’t have done it.”
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