Freeing up mobile workers

Posted on Mon, Apr 05, 2010 – 05:47 am on mobilehealthwatch.com | mHealthNews.com

Management’s perceived need to be co-located with their health workers when any kind of “real work” is to be done limits the advancement of eHealth and healthcare mobility. Technologies like Cisco’s HealthPresence, applications like PatientKeeper, and remote disease monitoring are dead before they leave the starting blocks if this mind set persists. At the same time the media is all aflutter about the iPad and location services and the GPS potential of handhelds, the microscope is being put on an obvious yet unspoken truth—managers don’t know how to manage employees in the distributed work space eHealth assumes. Enter “Results-Only Work Environment” (ROWE).

Last Wednesday at the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry announced that he is moving 400 agency employees into a pilot program that will attempt to implement a ROWE.

Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson of CultureRx hope that by partnering with federal government prime vendor ICF International, a cultural shift will radiate out from the OPM to the fedgov in general, and then out to the American work force as a whole. That shift is to define work entirely by its product, not by the processes or locations by which it is accomplished.

There has been an adoption of such tools as the Capability Maturity Model and the bestshoring approach in information technology and manufacturing sectors—though even these industries still tend to depend on centralized development centers rather than allowing individuals to complete work from wherever it makes sense.

In addition, one of the longstanding complaints in eHealth has been that insurers don’t know how to reimburse providers for their services in these work scenarios. Though the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have made several moves in that direction, the adoption of ROWE should speed the removal of geo-lock bias from the current healthcare and insurer world views.