5 Essential Attributes of Excellent Smartphone Recharging Solutions For Hospital Waiting Rooms

With the mHealth revolution, and healthcare app proliferation, safe mobile device charging is now critical technology infrastructure for patients and staff in healthcare facilities.

What are the essential attributes of excellent, enduring solutions?

1)  Highly Secure – the solution must provide physical and virtual security, at the level of the charging kiosk and its supporting platform.

Physical security has 4 dimensions:

  • Safe power: continuous, surge-protected power, to industry-certified standards
  • Security from physical theft: strong locks and chambers
  • Security from “access” theft: unique keys, not subject to compromise
  • Security from tampering: tamper-detection sensor to ensure that neither smartphone nor kiosk can be entered and reconfigured

Virtual security has 3 dimensions:

  • Security of phone data: no vector for any data connection to phones
  • Security of kiosk: it must be locked down and penetration-tested for vulnerabilities by independent third parties
  • Security of platform: again, locked down and pen-tested by third parties

2)  Perfectly Private – by ethics and regulation, organizations must protect personal privacy and health information. Here the solution must excel:

  • Privacy of access: given that a patient or staff mobile device could contain PHI (protected health information), the key “access” (also see above) must be super safe. For example, reliance on a single unmasked pin code key, subject to “visual hacking” or “shoulder surfing” falls short
  • Personal data privacy: at the levels both kiosk and supporting platform, opt-in collection of any identifying data (email address or phone number) must be accompanied by strong encryption and confidentiality protection regimes
  • Personal image privacy: use of on-kiosk camera for remote support or image-making compromises patients and is unacceptable

3)  Completely Self-service – staff expect and patients deserve seamless recharging experiences:

  • Staff are simply too busy to get involved: they need to be helping patients otherwise
  • The solution must serve 99% of smartphones, which is currently possible with no less than 4 industry standard cables: both Apples, USB and USB-C
  • 24/7 remote support must be available upon demand, with the technical capability to remotely open chambers after proper user authentication

4)  Versatile Form & Access – space is often at a premium in healthcare facilities, spaces vary in size and purpose, and broad access to the amenity is desirable:

  • The ability to deploy the charging solution in different form factors is desirable: it might serve best to mount a slim form solution on an available wall, or place it in table-top form on a credenza
  • Spread out appropriately in the healthcare facility, as opposed to massed in large multi-chamber towers with large screens, often better serves facility function
  • The facility may have a preference for the method of key “access”. In terms of locker key choice, there is physical, mobile apps, pin code, mag stripe card, and RFID badge. Physical keys get lost. Mobile phone apps can only be used if the device already has power. Pin codes can be excellent as long as a code is safely masked. Mag stripe cards are excellent because they have unique encrypted sequences, protected by PCI compliant readers. RFID badges can be great but must be universal.

5)  Excellent Value –  on the one hand, hospitals want intelligent, safe and excellent solutions, with proven long lives and service records, and on the other hand they expect and deserve reasonable acquisition costs. Naturally there is a broad spectrum of value options, as well as differences in capital and operating cost:

  • It makes little sense to spend repeat small amounts for simple, not secure solutions, which do not satisfy the dimensional requirements of the problem set, including the paramount risk associated with PHI compromise. Neither a charging table whose input costs are mostly metal and glass, nor a cheap import which needs replacement parts (starting almost immediately) are economic
  • It also makes no sense to pay too much for a secure solution, like a power tower with a large footprint and high annual operating costs, one more appropriate for an airport or mall, where branding features are prized

What makes sense is to acquire a versatile, secure & intelligent solution, provided at a long expected-life capital and fair on-going operating cost, one which rises to the challenges at hand, and which delivers excellent and enduring value.

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