Mobile health, also known as mHealth, was a hot topic in 2010, and HIMSS11 attendees can expect to hear even more about it at the upcoming conference in Orlando. A recent webinar featuring three industry experts offered a glimpse into some of the key mHealth trends for this year, and how they’ll be represented at HIMSS 2011.
Look for continued rapid adoption of tablets and smartphones by health care providers in 2011, said John Moore, principal of analyst firm Chilmark Research. He expects that by 2013 all physicians will be using smartphones with some kind of content app on them, and thinks they’ll all be using touch-screen tablets by 2015. There’s a lot of room for growth when it comes to how physicians are using their mobile devices, however. According to Chilmark Research, more than half (64%) of physicians are using their devices for clinical reference — downloading such apps as the popular Epocrates — while only 1% are using them to access electronic health record, or EHR, systems.
Expect to hear a lot of conversation at HIMSS 2011 about satisfying physician demand for the iPad, Moore said. Many CIOs are being “caught flatfooted” by this demand, resulting in a haphazard approach to iPad integration that can cause security problems, he said. He sees all the major vendors putting mHealth on their roadmap, and believes apps for the iPad — even if they’re a bit rudimentary — will be “everywhere” at HIMSS 2011.
Another mHealth trend to keep an eye on is the use of mobile devices for video communication, said Brian Dolan, editor of the online MobiHealthNews, who also noted that health care providers seem to be moving away from the BlackBerry in favor of iPhones and Android devices.
The adoption of smartphones and tablet devices is one of the fastest in communications history. Current trends show mobile users overtaking desktop users, said Mark Trigsted, executive vice president at Diversinet Corp., a company specializing in mobile security. CIOs jumping onto the mHealth train must make security a top priority, he said. Many CIOs are moving to a browser-based, Web-hosted approach to maintaining security, but this puts a drag on performance. End-to-end encryption of all protected health information is ideal, he added.
Mobile health is changing the relationship between patients and physicians, the experts agree. They believe patients will begin choosing their health care providers based on their availability via mobile devices, and physicians will begin prescribing Bluetooth-enabled medical devices and engaging in other mHealth services. Mobile health, then, is definitely a trend worth watching in 2011.