Government technology: Mobile transformation for the federal government

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Mobility is becoming the backbone of enterprise technology. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about mobility in government technology. Yet the federal government could benefit from more efficient management through mobile transformation.

Imagine government agencies with mobile-enabled workers accessing real-time data from devices to better serve taxpayers. A mobile government means a better emergency response due to better access to real-time data. It also means improved continuity of operations during winter storms and power outages, when federal workers would have difficulty getting into their offices.

Mobile transformation at the speed of government

It helps to look at each federal government agency as an independent institution with its own mission. Civilian agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are prime candidates for going mobile because they have large field workforces and regional offices. Since they both have enforcement arms, access to real-time data and applications can help agents make better enforcement decisions in the field.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is home to mobility initiatives inside the Pentagon, according to Federal News Radio. The Defense Information Systems Agency — the DoD’s IT department — has an enterprise app store that serves as a hub for DoD mobile apps. There’s also information about the Defense Mobility Unclassified Capability, which provides commercial-grade mobile devices with secure business tools for the department’s servicepeople and civilian employees.

Service branches such as the US Army are developing mobile training apps for soldiers’ devices. According to Interference Technology, the Navy is using a suite of eSailor apps to train sailors. These apps can reach prospective recruits who grew up as part of the smartphone generation, and they can reinforce what service people have learned in class while they’re deployed.

Government technology acquisition cycles run much longer than commercial procurements, and they can’t keep pace with the evolving mobility market. However, it’s safe to expect procurement changes: Agencies are experimenting with outcome-based procurements from 18F, an organization charged with improving the government experience. After the procurement changes, agile development and DevOps will likely grow, and custom mobile apps will become standard as agencies deliver apps as quickly as consumer developers.

The future of mobile government

The White House’s Cybersecurity Executive Order could help increase the pace of mobile transformation. The order mandates strengthening federal cybersecurity through cloud-based services and infrastructure. The strengthened cybersecurity measures should result in updated security tools, including two-factor authentication and derived credentials.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a bright spot in the government’s mobile transformation thanks to its mobile security work. According to GCN, the agency has made a significant investment in app security and released an important study about mobile device security. DHS efforts could bolster the case for more government agencies to go mobile.

Another factor in the government going mobile is employee telework. The General Services Administration has approved over 90 percent of its roles for telework, according to GovTechWorks. Unscheduled telework is a frequent message on radio and TV around the Washington, DC, area when it snows, raising even an infrequent need for mobile device access.

While the federal government is currently behind the times, its mobile transformation will continue as the cloud becomes even more of an IT standard across government agencies.

This post originally appeared on Mobile Business Insights on November 14, 2017. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

Mobile apps for healthcare professionals: Current and future trends

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Mobile apps for healthcare professionals are becoming the norm in hospitals and medical practices around the country. After all, healthcare workers are the ultimate mobile workforce — they are desk-free and need tools for instantaneous collaboration and information retrieval. The global mobile health app market is projected to be valued at $28.32 billion in the year 2018. It’s expected to reach $102.35 billion by 2023, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 29.3 percent during the period, according to Research and Markets.

Mobile apps in a healthcare environment promote secure collaboration and retrieval of patient health information (PHI) from anywhere in the hospital or practice. In the US, all healthcare mobile apps must be HIPAA compliant, so consumer app solutions don’t meet those security requirements. This gives rise to a new class of secure mobile apps for healthcare professionals.

The growing influence of mobile apps for healthcare professionals

The impact of mobile apps for healthcare professionals isn’t lost on the industry. The American Medical Association, American Heart Association, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society and digital health nonprofit DHX Group are founders of the guideline-writing nonprofit called Xcertia, according to AMA Wire. The nonprofit calls for mobile app assessment in the following areas:

  • Operability for a reasonable user experience
  • Privacy over user information and PHI in full compliance with federal and state laws, rules and regulations
  • Security protecting the app from external threats
  • Accurate and current content in the app

Mobile apps are also having an impact on the home healthcare market, enabling patients to leave the hospital for home sooner. A home healthcare worker can use HIPAA-compliant secure messaging to communicate with colleagues. They can even retrieve a patient’s electronic health records (EHRs) securely using their smartphone or a cellular-equipped tablet. The more a home healthcare worker can do from the field, the more time they get to spend with patients. It’s the same use case you hear for field services workers such as cable technicians.

In general, healthcare professionals have many new mobile capabilities to look forward to in the coming years:

1. Unified mobile clinical communications

A unified communications solution is the standard communications and collaboration platform for many of us. Healthcare security requirements demand secure solutions, so it’s important to watch the unified mobile clinical communications trend, as reported by Healthcare IT News. Think of it as unified communications and workflow for healthcare professionals. The aim of this technology trend is to unify single-purpose apps under a single user interface, promoting staff efficiency.

2. Mobile video chat for telemedicine

As more health insurance companies and hospital conglomerates diversify into telemedicine, mobile apps will play a greater role. For example, a physician on-call for telemedicine duty can open a patient conference using their smartphone or tablet rather than having to sit at their PC. The quality of the experience will only improve with the advent of 5G and faster broadband.

3. Patient engagement

Because physicians, nurses and other medical professionals are always on the go, it’s important to employ tools to enhance patient engagement. Additionally, hospitals must track patient outcomes to stay compliant with the Affordable Care Act, according to Government Technology. There’s a new generation of mobile apps going live to provide performance metrics, address patient feedback, track possible trends and pinpoint workflow gaps. Envision a nursing supervisor being able to track departmental patient metrics or making a scheduling change using a smartphone app while they are walking the floor or even while at home between shifts. Furthermore, the handoff of such patient-engagement data is made easier during shift changes because supervisors and nurses all have access to the latest data.

4. Improved HIS access

With more powerful mobile devices, secure Wi-Fi, MDM and geofencing now in place, it opens up improved access to Health Information Systems (HIS). Healthcare professionals gain better access to EHRs through robust mobile apps with secure links to cloud back-end systems.

5. Improved scheduling from mobile devices

Hospitals are a walking, talking example of difficult scheduling, with employees working varying shifts that constantly change. There’s a growing class of mobile scheduling tools that enable nurses and other healthcare workers to enter in their shifts months in advance. These tools use algorithms to memorize their most common shifts, reducing schedule entry time in the future. Staff managers can also use the apps to communicate schedule changes to their team.

What’s next: AI and the future of healthcare mobile apps

The future of mobile health apps truly may be the deployment of artificial intelligence. The technology is already disrupting clinical workflows by offering healthcare professionals new decision-support tools. Think of a healthcare professional accessing an AI-powered mobile app to review a patient’s EHR or to research symptoms. As reported by MobiHealthNews, AI-driven mobile health certainly isn’t without its challenges, such as hospital infrastructure and patient privacy. And while AI could augment healthcare professionals, there are those that are concerned it could take away jobs.

The healthcare industry will have to deal with such challenges before AI becomes commonplace in healthcare mobile apps, but the trade-off is empowered professionals who are able to provide more efficient and integrated patient care with all the data they need right at their fingertips.

This post was originally published on Mobile Business Insights on March 26, 2018. The site is no longer in publication.

My name is Will Kelly. I’m a technical writer and content strategist based in the Washington, DC area. I’ve written for corporations and technology publications about such topics as cloud computing, DevOps, and enterprise mobility. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly

Welcome to the age of sovereign mobile productivity

We may finally be entering the age of sovereign mobile productivity where mobile users can be more productive because of improved security and access to backend systems with minimal IT intervention. A more self-sufficient your mobile worker community means a more successful your mobile-first, Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) or Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative.

Here are some signs we are entering an era of sovereign mobile productivity:

Self-service device provisioning

Self-service mobile device provisioning is a crucial indicator that we are entering the era of sovereign mobile productivity. The more that employees, contractors, and partners can do to provision their mobile devices to access enterprise assets the better. IT can focus on more strategic (read billable) work.

Identity management

The advent of identity management solutions from the Ping Identity, Okta, and others could help promote more user independence for accessing cloud applications.I see identity management playing a role because it’s a lightweight setup for a user on their mobile devices.

Right now my iPhone is running multiple identity management apps because so I can access some client systems. Each of the apps was easy to setup. The average end user could set one up using a one-page job aid to guide them.

Robust mobile app clients for cloud apps

Today’s mobile apps are offering features on parity with their desktop application cousins. There are examples across the board where mobile app clients for customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence (BI) are packing features on parity with the full application.

Intelligent document discovery

“Where’s such and such document,” is a question that haunts many document writers. The question becomes a wee bit more annoying when some or all of the users are using mobile devices.

Intelligent document discovery is using technology to narrow project documents that a user requires for projects. It’s an expanding area that I first caught wind of when I was writing about Huddle, a cloud collaboration provider, back when I was freelancing for TechRepublic. I expect to see, Colligo and other third-party SharePoint client providers continue to innovate in this area through further iterations of their SharePoint/Office 365 client apps. Microsoft hasn’t spoken for themselves here quite yet either. I’ve come across news that SharePoint 2016 is going to be more mobile friendly so stay tuned.

Mobile project management apps

Another sign of sovereign mobile productivity is the mobilization of project management apps. Project team members can now update their project tasks, scheduling, and related information from their personal or corporate-owned mobile device.

iPad Pro

With its 12.9″ screen size and other hardware specifications, the iPad Pro has the potential to extend mobile productivity or be passed over by it. Personally, I think the fate of the iPad Pro is in the hands of enterprise app vendors right now, not so much in the hands of Apple. The initial reviews of the new device have been mixed, but I’m waiting to see some enterprise success stories around the iPad Pro before I pass final judgment.

Final thoughts

The changing nature of the workforce with more remote teams, teleworking, and contractors elevate the importance of mobile devices in the enterprise.

Is sovereign mobile productivity even achievable?

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week,, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

Image by Tim Mossholder via