The Guardian reports that the Department of Health has issued guidance for Hospitals in England to consider allowing patients, staff and visitors more liberal use of mobile phones where it doesn’t interfere with equipment, the privacy of others or cause a nuisance.
The new guidance stipulates that mobile phone use should continue to be restricted in areas where critical care equipment susceptible to electromagnetic interference is used. Areas where phones should not be used should be clearly indicated so that patients and staff are fully aware.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said “Close support and comfort from loved ones when you are poorly in hospital is essential. Mobiles phones are commonplace in everyday life these days and people have told us that they’d like to be able to use their phones more in hospital to keep in touch. That’s why we’re keen to encourage sensible use in NHS hospitals where it is safe to do so, in addition to other services offered in hospitals such bedside payphones, TV and internet access.”
This could be an important step for mHealth, restrictions on healthcare facility use of mobiles could have had an impact on patient access to mHealth technologies in a similar way that exorbitant roaming charges have adversely effected the adoption of mobile navigation and internet use amongst the traveling public.