Clinical mobility and device interoperability continue to be top challenges for healthcare providers worldwide. As the use of mobile devices like tablets and 2 in 1’s continues to increase, providers are looking for innovative new ways for these devices to streamline workflows and improve patient experiences. Intel is collaborating with Ergotron to study clinical workflows and identify new solutions that can help providers achieve these goals.
As part of this ongoing collaboration, we recently sat down with Michael Mullen, director of product development at Ergotron. Michael leads new product innovation strategy with a background in industrial design and product management to deliver the next generation of furniture and mounts to optimize use and how it relates to the human interface to promote healthier, more productive environments for life and work.
Intel: What work has Ergotron undertaken in the healthcare space?
Mullen: With more than 30 years of experience in creating ergonomic solutions for computer users worldwide, and more than 20 years in healthcare alone, Ergotron is uniquely qualified to design workstations that fit workflow throughout an entire facility. With the emergence of electronic medical records (EMR) systems, technology has been in a continual fast-pasted evolution and our role is to optimize the digital interface with IT equipment and improve usability and safety for these systems that are now consuming upwards of 35 percent of a caregiver's shift. Negative HCAHPS scores and readmissions deeply effect the bottom line. It is our mission to innovate in this area where patient experience and workflow requirements merge together.
Intel: How do you see IT technology impacting your customers and their use of Ergotron solutions – today and in the future? How does Ergotron work with technology companies like Intel to integrate new technology based solutions?
Mullen: We work closely with thought-leaders like Intel and our IT partners to optimize the latest technology and improve EMR usage. In today’s very competitive healthcare landscape, the patient has many choices on where to go and who to see. Patients also have higher expectations on what should be provided to support a proper exam or procedure. Combine this with the healthcare market shifting from procedure-based to outcome- and experience-based patient visits, and it creates a latent need to rethink how technology can enable the best patient care possible.
Intel: What are some of the key trends in healthcare right now that you find interesting?
Mullen: Secure patient records, wireless technologies, and mobility are all areas that we are looking at to improve the desired outcomes for both the patient and caregiver. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is being considered by many organizations, even though it doesn’t fit into many of the existing environmental processes and it actually costs more to manage than facility-owned devices while also raising many security concerns. The computing power and efficiency of mobile devices, thin-clients, and 2 in 1’s is more than adequate for most EMR activities. Unfortunately, ergonomics and EMR requirements are not currently optimized for these form factors. I think our future will be to seamlessly integrate and optimize these new form factors while respecting the ergonomic efficiencies gained by full-size peripherals combined with the constraints that the EMR vendors require. More and more client devices are being integrated into these facilities with vastly different workflows at every site. When we ask our end users what they want, the typical response is, “we need more time and we need more computers.” Why, in this day and age, do clinicians need more computers? I suggest they need the right computer interface at the right time to avoid interruption to their workflow and maintain positive engagement and care for the patient.
Intel: What does the hospital of the future look like? How is Ergotron helping hospitals make this transformation?
Mullen: In the near future, I see a care environment where technology will work with the caregiver and with the patient. We will be having far fewer conversations about battery charging, cable management, heavy carts, and peripheral support. It will be a much more approachable interaction with technology. Less wires, more integration. We are looking at what elements need to be minimized, combined with what elements need to be improved. Then identify how the latest technologies can help optimize these findings to create the desired outcomes. I see a transparent use of technology that encourages collaboration and does not disrupt, but rather supports, a clinician and informs a patient and their family. This technology will always be accessible at the right time, at the right scale, and in the right ergonomic position to provide a meaningful interaction with the patient and EMR that will ultimately lead to healthier, happier caregivers and improved patient outcomes.