Healthcare mobility opens doctor-patient communication channels

Mobile access to health information at the point of care is a time-saver for physicians, but some providers are still hesitant to embrace mHealth.

The growth of mHealth applications and their use within clinical workflows is a clear sign that mobile devices have become an accepted part of patient care. Although they are used at the bedside in hospitals and exam rooms, some providers still question the general appeal of mHealth.

Providers' hesistance stems from their lack of confidence that mobile devices can improve patient care -- the reality is that healthcare mobility is here to stay. It's easy to see the value provided by mobile technology when closely examining how physicians leverage these devices during the course of care.

Timely information access: The use of mHealth and mobile devices can save time for busy physicians. Giving care providers access to health information during the point of care eliminates time spent searching for patient records on a workstation or contacting a nurse to track down critical data. This immediate access to data is usually offered through EHR vendors and can be extremely valuable to physicians. There are some limitations to what data physicians can access and the amount of information they can add to the chart. It varies depending on the EHR system.

The success of these mobile viewings of patient medical records varies amongst specialties. Some family practice physicians in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina don't always need to gain immediate access to a patient's chart and can hold off until they are near a workstation. For most surgeons performing time-sensitive tasks, the popularity of these mobile apps increases significantly.

Streamlined communications: Communication is another area where healthcare mobility is having an effect on patient care. Mobile devices can facilitate communication between physicians and staff as well as patients. Patients can receive a much quicker response from physicians that interact on their mobile devices, compared to those who still rely on more traditional methods of physician-patient communication.

Mobility is affecting those on both sides of the fence, patients and healthcare professionals. There are some providers that have encountered challenges to mobile implementations, namely cost and a lack of interoperability between operating systems. Those that have overcome or avoided these challenges have identified a number of improvements to their daily operations.

About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development at Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email
 editor@searchhealthit.com or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.

This was first published in May 2014

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