In just a few short years, we’ve witnessed the smartphone’s rise from bleeding-edge innovation to household fixture. We’ve watched it permeate every industry, establishing itself as essential to how we interact and operate, to the point where we’ve come to define our times by it—this is the smartphone age.
But mobile technology’s diffusion into the mainstream hasn’t been uniform. Some industries have greeted the mobile revolution with open arms, while others have resisted this paradigm shift (to varying degrees of success).
The healthcare sector falls somewhere in between, and that’s a cause for serious concern. After all, the purpose of technology is to improve the quality of our lives, our society, and our human experience, and it’s alarming that health care—arguably the most direct way to do just that—isn’t leveraging mobile tech to its full potential.
Hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities are facing challenges when it comes to successful mobile health (or mHealth) solutions. And as a mobile app development company with an extensive background in the medical sector, Codal has a few ideas about how to cure this smartphone affliction.
Is There A Doctor In The House?
Just like a doctor diagnosing a patient, let’s start by ruling out what isn’t the issue.
This year, popular medical publication Physicians Practicesurveyed 187 doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers to find that a massive 75.9 percent of them said their facility used some form of mHealth on weekly basis. Safe to say, adoption isn’t the problem here.
But the same survey found that the majority of those care facilities were using those solutions between just 0 and 5 hours a week. They might have access to mHealth solutions, but they certainly aren’t using them in their day-to-day practices. The question is why.
The brass of these hospitals certainly doesn’t need to be convinced— not if over 75 percent of them are willing to invest in mHealth solutions. But perhaps we need to dig deeper. Perhaps it’s the physicians themselves who aren’t willing to implement these smartphone tools in their workflows.
But another recent study, this one conducted by the American Medical Association, found that 85 percent of 1300 physicians surveyed believed that digital health solutions gave them an advantage in their ability to care for their patients. The figure attached illustrates a more in-depth breakdown of these findings.
The AMA’s study went even further, attempting to identify exactly what attracted these physicians to digital tools like mHealth. The primary reasons cited were improving work efficiency, enhancing diagnostic ability, and most importantly, increasing patient safety. And these were just the most popular factors—the full responses are a laundry list of the benefits mHealth solutions offer.
Another notable conclusion was the high amount of younger physicians that were especially optimistic about the impact digital tools could have. This finding suggests that these solutions are indeed the future of medical practice in the healthcare sector.
So if everything is pointing towards mHealth dominating hospitals and clinics across the country, why isn’t it? If it’s not the higher-ups or the users themselves, what’s left? The quality of the mHealth solutions themselves.
Gone are the days when people had to rush to the doctor for regular checkups or medications. Now, with technological advancements, they don’t need to go to the hospital for every small or big health issue. All these are possible because of smartphones. Smartphones have now become a perfect mHealth tool for customized medicine, sending targeted information as well as notification and collecting individual data. Do you know what the best part is? The data that are being used in order to boost population health programs, is getting huge success.
The reason behind the success of this population health messaging using smartphones is simple. An estimated 96 percent of people around the world are using smartphones. This makes it easier for mHealth messaging programs to reach almost all the people in a defined population. Compared to phone calls, people, these days, are making more use of texting and emails to communicate. This has let the healthcare providers create customized and interactive messages that are rich in content and that drives engagement. There are many population health programs that are based on mHealth such as maternal health, smoking, infant health, physical activity, weight loss as well as depression or anxiety. There are also other programs that give people a reminder to visit a doctor for checkups of their children. Some others include programs that are aimed at chronic populations with asthma, diabetes or HIV.
According to a recent study, 91 percent of people admitted that their knowledge of IEHP services was improved with text messages. Compared to a control group, their engagement rate was 2.5 times better. Also, among them, 10 percent participated in a series of health challenges, while one-third completed the challenges. It can be said that there are mainly two reasons why this text messaging became so popular:
About 98 percent of people read it
Text messaging is used by almost 80 percent of the U.S.’ Medicaid population
According to experts, if healthcare providers are going to use mHealth messaging, then they may follow the below-mentioned tips in order to create an effective engagement platform –
Tell patients what they need to do to get the desired results
What if the patients do not understand what their doctors want them to do and why? This is why it is important that you teach the patients very well as to why and what they need to do so that they can properly follow the care instructions. You can provide them with supplemental information or clarify instructions that were given to them at the time of face-to-face office visit. This way, they will get to know what exactly they need to do with the new medical device. Ask them questions regarding the instructions that have been given and clear their doubts if they have any.
Mobile technology is impacting every element of American healthcare–from insurance and billing to documentation and caregiving, the impacts are being felt. The truly transformative element of the mobile revolution is not the technology itself, or the way it changes the look and feel of the tasks it affects. Despite complaints of the depersonalizing effect of technology, the ultimate value of mobile in the sector will be how it enhances and encourages communication.
Providers are Going Mobile
Already, flexibility and functionality have already drawn providers to mobile devices and solutions. Voice-to-text technology and similar automated solutions are in the offing to relieve the documentation burden that has dampered some amount of enthusiasm toward digitization. Bolstered by these advancements, caregivers will go from subjects of their EHRs to masters of patient encounters.
One of the huge benefits of mobility–as opposed to simply being networked on desktop computers or having a digital health records solution–is the capacity for greater native customization and app development. Native apps are like the currency of the mobile, smart device world providers are entering. Developers can deliver personal, branded interfaces that allow doctors to choose precisely how they want their dashboards to look, giving their EHRs a custom touch that has been sorely lacking throughout their implementation.
App-centric development will further reduce the friction of adoption and utilization, giving doctors a sense of empowerment and investment, rather than the bland inertia that has carried digitization thus far.
The personalization of the technology through app development will help boost adoption, and return the focus to what the technology enables, rather than how it looks or what it has replaced. Mobile technology’s strength will be in reconnecting doctors and patients, and creating bridges of data and communication across the continuum of care.
Healthcare is experiencing major breakthroughs in technology with the rise in digital transformation. mHealth – a terminology that combines mobile technology with healthcare is proliferating and bringing up an opportunity to revamp public health.
Mobile technology is playing a vital role in delivering healthcare seamlessly, with ease of access to both providers as well as consumers.
The magnitude and scope of development of mHealth is beyond explanation. As per GreatCall, mHealth is projected to be a $26 billion industry by the end of 2017. Surely, 10 years from now healthcare mobile devices will become smarter than they already are.
This technology has a potential to reduce the risk of errors and save the time and money that is often wasted. As more and more care providers are shifting to mobile health technologies, consumers have a plethora of options to choose from. Its adoption rate is at an all-time high since it has a variety of utilities to offer.
Development of point of care medical devices, fitness and wellness smartphone apps, clinical medication apps, medical resources, journals and patient records is on the surge. Mobile technology is helping increase patient engagement and connected care. Almost, 83 percent physicians believe in the power of mHealth for patients.
There is a whole new world of possibilities and challenges that mobile has opened for healthcare along with its growing development and support. For instance, end point app security, data breaches and HIPAA violations have sharply increased and there is a need to regulate them. Despite these, mHealth proves to be the most promising industry trend for caregivers and consumers alike.
To understand the general consumer response, usage trends security concerns governing mHealth, Kays Harbor has come up with an infographic. This infographic depicts interesting facts and numbers reported by surveys conducted by firms like SkyCure, Research2Guidance, Great Call, etc.
Like retail and education before it, a major shift is underway in the healthcare industry that is putting power back in consumers’ hands. Similar to how retail outlets are delivering custom experiences based on consumer preferences, or how there is more attention to individual needs in the classroom, patients are able to play a more active role in their healthcare administration and decision-making than ever before. This means participating in a shared decision-making model with physicians, seeing their needs and preferences reflected in the course of their treatment, and easier access to their medical data, made readily available to both the patient and his or her medical team.
This article will explore the phenomenon that is PCC, a paradigm shift changing the healthcare industry at its core. So much so, PCC is driving adoption of three technology related trends that are in line with its principles. They include: telemedicine, cloud computing and mHealth.
Patient Centered Care and 2016 Healthcare IT Trends
While many assumed in-facility care would remain the norm after house calls faded from popularity decades ago, that may not be the case. Increasingly, telemedicine — or remote consultations, diagnoses, and treatment performed by medical professionals — is becoming a standard practice in the healthcare industry.
For example, the below ad from Anthem BlueCross and LiveHealth Online was released by one of the nation’s largest insurance agencies promoting remote consultations states the “doctor is always in” and sessions are “quick and easy with no appointments and no driving.”
In line with the principles of PCC, telehealth promises greater access to care for patients who don’t live in close proximity to a healthcare facility. For the greater population, telehealth offers convenience and the comfort of care delivered in a patient’s natural environment. Administering care in a patient’s environment instead of a traditional healthcare setting can also facilitate better care in some cases. Fierce Healthcare provides the example of blood pressure screening – taking a patient’s blood pressure in a natural setting, like their home or workplace, may more accurately reflect their blood pressure on a daily basis.
Telehealth and the benefits this practice offers to patients are perfectly in line with the patient-centric approach favored today. In light of this, it wouldn’t be surprising if telemedicine adoption continues to rise in the coming years, along with the demand for technology that can facilitate remote care.
Guest post by Rashmi Katiyar, director, Kratin LLC.
I read an article recently in the favor of mobile development in healthcare, though the article was making sense to me, it got comments like “mobile is good but we have many other challenges to cater and mobile is far low on priority.”
As an immediate reaction, I agreed to this comment, but it kept me bugging over the time. When mobile is so powerful (with its reach) so connected why it can’t solve bigger problems? May be they are not thinking mobile beyond “find a physician” or “fitness step count” apps. There are actually endless opportunities and much more serious tasks await smartphone, in healthcare provider perspective.
Patient Assistance: Mobile can be handy guide for a patient outside and inside hospitals, it can not only give information about your facility, services and physicians but also can keep your patients engaged with notifications , health library, you tube channels , care gap management, immunization schedules, etc.
Physician Assistance: In today’s competitive healthcare industry with growing ACOs and other policies it’s equally important to keep your physicians engaged and equipped. Handy & secure access to needed information like patient data , technical terms, on call schedules etc. assist doctors, nurses and clinical staff to increase overall coordination among the care team and achieve greater satisfaction.
Population Health: Good mobile application provides opportunity to stay connected with wider number of people beyond patients, as a result it’s easy to run real-time push surveys, polls and run healthy community forums across. Social and mobile plays vital role in information spreading process, with access to more number of people things can be done altogether at different scale.
These are just some of the very high level thoughts; mobile applications are growing richer in capability and technology. One of the biggest benefits of staying connected to the patients beyond the walls of the hospitals is; it allows care team to keep check on adherence and wellness of the patients, which avoids re-admissions and reduces overall cost of care.
We discuss possibilities with various IT teams from different hospitals, more we talk more I feel the need for healthcare providers to embrace mHealth for better health outcomes and truly emerge as fee for value organization catering to not only about patient’s illness but about wellness of the each and every individual in its sphere.
The healthcare industry remains at a crossroads as providers and healthcare IT professionals confront a rapidly changing business and regulatory landscape. With factors like rising patient cost obligations, growing payer complexity, and the inevitable shift to a value-based payment environment weighing on them, medical practices nationwide are in search of new IT solutions to support them. The rapid pace of cloud adoption across all sectors is a prominent example. The market for cloud solutions is one of the fastest growing areas within healthcare, but it’s not solely a private sector phenomenon; the federal government’s cloud-first strategy finally gained traction in 2015, prompting a FCW analyst to predict accelerating momentum for federal cloud initiatives over the next three to five years.
One of the strongest factors driving cloud momentum among medical practices today remains security concerns: with growing IT complexity increasing security risks, cloud options remain an attractive plug-and-play alternative to on-site servers that allows healthcare providers to minimize vulnerabilities. But modern cloud solutions also allow providers to maximize practice management capabilities and offer faster time to value. And, with features like pay-as-you-go pricing, cloud solutions don’t require a big upfront investment, making them a popular choice with budget-conscious healthcare organizations.
Another key factor driving practice adoption of modern, cloud-based solutions is the need more efficient workflows to support effective patient billing. The patient share of healthcare costs is growing rapidly in the US. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, out-of-pocket costs have grown three times as fast as overall healthcare costs. And, the average deductible has skyrocketed from $584 in 2006 to $1,318 in 2015. Practices need solutions that can help them implement controls and analytics as patients become responsible for a greater share of costs.
As a result of these and other factors, cloud technology now plays a pivotal role in healthcare, and cloud-based healthcare IT solutions are becoming increasingly important in helping practice successfully navigate this new environment. So what’s in store for 2016? Here are some healthcare IT trends to watch:
A more modern, intuitive software experience: The consumerization of healthcare IT has begun in earnest, and that means practices are looking for design-centered products that deliver intuitive solutions. Cloud-based healthcare IT solutions that move beyond Web 1.0 to provide a consumer-focused user experience (UX) will be the clear winners.
Guest post by Khomushka Andrey, project coordinator, Sciencesoft.
Health professionals will hardly ever love documenting. By making tedious tasks easier and eliminating paperwork, medical apps spare time for doctors to focus on their patients more. However, physicians would rather use paper charts and sticky notes than try to figure out what goes wrong with the software.
The reason why mHealth for medical practices, clinics, hospitals and other care organizations might stay unused is that developers tend to build monolithic mobile copies of medical desktop solutions, trying to adapt the complex functionality to smaller screens. Off-the-shelf software vendors generally stick to this large-screen approach, as their goal is to cover the needs of as many customers as possible.
According to Healthcare IT News and the AMA (American Medical Association), however, physicians welcome a more customized approach. “Physicians have found that most EHRs lack usability and interoperability as necessary features for supporting high-quality patient care,” says James L. Madara, MD, CEO of the AMA.
So thinks the AAPS (Association of American Physicians and Surgeons), which represents the end users of such apps. Executive director Jane M. Orient, MD, states that “The costly, clunky systems the government demands are worsening the problems and even driving some software experts back to paper.” And just to emphasize it, according to Healthcare IT News, 80 percent out of 571 physicians surveyed feel that EHRs impede patient care and almost half claim that patient safety is at risk.
Guest post by Robert Williams, MBA/PMP, CEO, goPMO, Inc.
I continue to view 2016 as a shakeup year in healthcare IT. We’ve spent the last five plus years coming to grips with the new normal of meaningful use, HIPAA and EMR adoption, integrated with the desire to transform the healthcare business model from volume to value. After the billions of dollars spent on electronic health records and hospital/provider acquisitions we see our customers looking around and asking how have we really benefited and what is still left to accomplish.
All politics is local
Our healthcare providers are realizing their clinical applications, specifically EMR vendors, are not going to resolve interoperability by themselves. When the interoperability group, CommonWell formed in 2013 much of the market believed the combination of such significant players (Cerner, Allscripts, McKesson, Athenahealth and others) would utilize their strength to accelerate interoperability across systems. Almost three years late CommonWell only has a dozen pilot sites in operation.
Evolving HL7 standards and a whole generation of software applications are allowing individul hospitals to take the task of interoperability away from traditional clinical applications and creating connectivity themselves.
Black Book’s survey published last month, stated that three out of every four hospitals with more than 300 beds are outsourcing IT solutions. Hospitals have been traditionally understaffed to meet the onslaught of federal requirements. Can they evolve into product deployment organizations as well? Across all the expertise they need within the organization? Most are saying no and searching out specialty services organizations to supplement their existing expertise and staff.
Are you going to eat that?
Patient engagement is on fire right now at the federal level (thank you meaningful use Stage 3), in investment dollars and within the provider
community. But to truly manage hospital re-admissions and select chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity and congestive heart failure for example)
providers need data and trend analysis on daily consumer behavior. The rise of wearable technology and the ability to capture data/analyze data from them will be a major focus going forward. These technologies will likely help to make us healthier but with a bit of big brother side affect.
Today’s physicians face an increasing array of non-clinical demands on their time, from filling out paperwork to sorting through insurance denials. As a result, the amount of time doctors have to actually see patients has been reduced.
The combination of decreasing number of physicians, increasing demand for quality care, and rising costs of healthcare has created a challenging environment for both patients and healthcare professionals.
Nearly all of us have experienced long wait times at a physician’s office, often for minor ailments or routine follow-ups. These lengthy wait times are causing more and more patients to skip follow-up visits or turn to unreliable online medical services and websites for information. This not only erodes the doctor-patient relationship, but it puts patient health at risk. Furthermore, the information is not properly shared with the patient’s actual physician.
Today’s ultra-connected world has a solution that can bring the doctor-patient relationship into the 21st century: telemedicine.
Telemedicine is a suite of technology solutions that enables doctors to communicate with and treat patients via text, video and audio – and it can be used by physicians, nurses, office staff, any healthcare professional and, of course, patients. Telemedicine allows physicians to provide more convenient, real-time interactions with their own patients, for triaging acute issues and for quick follow up visits that can save the entire health system time and money.
And it’s far from the latest medical fad. Telemedicine is already one of the fastest growing segments in healthcare. According to the American Telemedicine Association, half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telemedicine. Similarly, Health Affairs has predicted an increase in domestic telehealth revenue by almost 20 percent per year, to $1.9 billion by 2018.
Connecting to patients, anywhere and anytime
Clearly, these solutions have ushered in a new age of medicine. Technology can also provide real-time data on patient vital signs, blood sugars and other information to improve the monitoring of chronic conditions, reducing readmission rates and keeping our patients healthier outside of the hospital.
Factors fueling the growth of telemedicine are as follows: a shortage of physicians in rural and remote areas, the high prevalence of chronic diseases, growing elderly populations, increasing numbers of smartphone users and the need for improved quality of care.
Telemedicine solutions fall into two broad categories: remote patient monitoring and online/digital communications. Remote patient monitoring links home healthcare equipment (heart monitors, dialysis equipment, etc.) to the internet and then securely reports patient data back to a healthcare provider.