Transitioning healthcare to a more digitally mobile future

Melissa Salm - Bisk Education

Melissa Salm, Outreach Specialist at Bisk Education

In our latest guest post Melissa Salm, Outreach Specialist at Bisk Education/University Alliance, discusses future of our patients medical charts and how digital technology is helping to create new electronic health records (EHRs). These documents are real-time records, specific to each individual patient, that provide instant access to secure information for authorised users. Like many modern technologies, EHRs are becoming increasingly used on mobile devices.

The Importance of Mobile

The market for mobile EHRs is undergoing significant growth as physicians seek to replace systems that are not meeting their needs, according to data from research firm Black Book Rankings. Experts indicate that mobile apps have become a must-have among physicians, and EHR vendors are rising to meet the demand by introducing mobile functionality and compatibility in their products.

Physician demand isn’t the only driving force behind mobile growth. In its survey of hospital CIOs, Black Book discovered that the integration of mobile applications was a top technological priority, ranking above cloud computing, business intelligence and clinical analytics.

It’s critical for EHR providers to be able to develop mobile apps and link to apps created by other developers, noted Rich Berner, president of international operations at Allscripts and general manager of its Sunrise business unit. After noticing that clinicians are using mobile devices to communicate and perform functions like banking and travel booking, the company boosted its investments in the mobile space.

“We’re seeing that physicians more and more are moving away from computers to mobile devices,” Berner told Modern Healthcare. “Even laptops are heavy and people are moving to tablets.”

The capabilities of modern EHR mobile apps go beyond simply accessing patient information. Sumit Rana, CTO at Epic Systems, said that clinicians can connect to the Epic EHR at their hospital or group practice via mobile, or message patients through their MyChart patient portal in a mobile app on their iPhone, iPad or Android device. Patients can also chat with clinicians via video or move data from their patient portal to health apps like Apple HealthKit.

Mobile Health: Evolving to Improve Care

By the end of 2013, Apple’s App Store contained more than 44,000 mobile health apps. Most were categorised as “health and wellness” offerings that helped users track data such as hours slept and calories consumed, locate physicians, or research health information. There was little evidence as to which apps provided the greatest value.

The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics set out to evaluate the apps and discovered that at least 90% were of poor quality. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) suggested that legitimate mobile health apps should be built by experts in the cognitive, computer and social science fields, tested through patient partnerships, and suit the specific needs of end-users. Many times, developers assume to know what patients will want without asking them first.

The mobile health field has since evolved to help both patients and physicians better manage their health. IMS noted multiple apps that met its high standards for quality. iTriage, for example, is an ideal diagnostic app. It analyses the input of signs and symptoms to provide a differential diagnosis, after which it recommends a course of action and lists local care providers. “Pager” is another noteworthy service that enables patients to consult a panel of doctors and select one for an immediate $199 house visit. Apps like these take care outside the doctor’s office and into the patients’ everyday lives.

The Future of Mobile Health

The global mobile health industry holds outstanding promise with the potential to exceed $49.1 billion by 2020. Medical services are pricey, and as a result, hospitals, providers and patients have their eyes on the comparatively affordable mobile health space.

Mobile health growth will also be fuelled by a global increase in the use of smartphones and the networks they rely on to function. High-quality apps can come to fruition with extensive research, patient partnerships and teamwork among developers and health experts.

About the Author: Melissa Salm is an outreach specialist with Bisk Education. She writes about health care topics related to health informatics for the University of South Florida’s Morsani College of Medicine. You can take part in the latest ‘Health IT Industry Survey 2015’ by visiting the University Alliance website (here).

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  1. Ron

    With health records going digital, it is important that Health IT vendors and practitioners maintain best practices to keep these records secure. Still, with mobile ready capability, healthcare can see great advances in risk mitigation and democratization.

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