December 5, 2017
Today, 95% of Americans have a smartphone. And that means that along with internet, photo, and sound capabilities, we are all carrying what is essentially a human tracking device.
This is my second in a series of blogs where I discuss the advent and proliferation of data gathering technologies that we carry or wear. I want to discuss the possibilities – and potential pitfalls – of these wearable technologies for different industries, especially healthcare. My last blog covered fitness trackers, and how they can be used to create their own EMR for professional athletes, and what privacy issues may emerge.
What about the simple act of tracking people at work? It’s nothing new. Vehicle tracking of delivery trucks has existed for a long time. But now we are entering new, more intimate territory. A technology company in Wisconsin recently asked its employees to agree to be microchipped. The chip was injected between their thumb and index finger, letting employees swipe into the building, gain access to their computers and even pay for food in the cafeteria. The majority—50 employees out of 80—didn’t think it was a big deal and opted in. The company is not using it as a tracking device, but it raised enough attention to garner an article in the New York Times .
While we always want to keep our eye on privacy concerns around gathering personal data, we can also look for the benefits of how these evolving technologies can enhance the workplace.
In a healthcare context, I think of nurses, who are highly mobile. They’re either moving throughout the facility or, for home health nurses, around the community. Imagine if we could:
- Track steps taken in the hospital to ensure nurses were spending their time at the bedside, not walking the facility from end to end searching for supplies or doing other, non-patient related tasks.
- Analyze the driving routes of home health nurses, to discover areas for efficiencies.
- Eliminate the paperwork needed to track mileage.
In the end, it’s all about trade-offs. Sure, there are potential privacy issues, but we want our nurses to also be working to their full potential—and to be happy doing it. What are your thoughts? How else could we use this technology to improve staff and patient satisfaction?
Marcus Mossberger, Human Capital Management Director, Infor Healthcare