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Health IT gurus proffer mHealth, personal health data tips

Telehealth and mHealth adopters tell CIOs and others how they can integrate new tools into their organizations.

Joseph Kvedar, M.D., has a simple and intuitive first-step tip for healthcare providers seeking to adopt new school tools into their systems. "Mobilize your EHR. Mobilize your patient portal," says Kvedar, director of the Center for Connected Health at Boston's Partners Healthcare, a leader in the fast-expanding world of mHealth and telehealth. "And allow doctors to see healthcare forms on mobile devices."

That means taking patients' personal health data to the places that are most convenient to them: their pockets and pocketbooks, where their smartphones reside. It also means doing the same thing for documents.

"In the beginning, your variable is mobile," Kvedar said.

Another piece of advice is that accountable care organizations (ACOs) consider charging service fees for hospital readmissions, thereby promoting strategies such as telehealth for taking care of patients at home.

My interest in telehealth and technology-enabled health is to leverage assets of delivery to deliver similar quality at decreased expense.
Win VaughanCatholic Health Initiatives

Another mHealth thinker, Khalid Moidu, M.D., CIO and CMIO of Family Physicians Group, an Orlando, Florida, ACO, has his own advice for group practices, ACOs, and hospital and clinical systems.

His first tip is that an organization should select up-to-date, current-generation smartphones, tablets and patient monitoring devices that can be easily integrated into its IT system and are interoperable.

Moidu also recommends that organizations adopt internal policies and procedures focused on preventing failures and errors and fostering the highest-quality personal health data, particularly in light of the FDA's recent move to essentially deregulate many mHealth smartphone-based apps.

Along with that imperative is working with manufacturers to calibrate and test devices in the clinical settings to "make sure the picture is accurate," Moidu said.

Moidu also said to err on the side of safety. He also noted that security is critical, both over the enterprise platform and to maintain privacy in mobile communications, but that the more security is added on, the more stress it places on the overall IT system's processing capacity.

Another fan of these non-hospital-based approaches, Win Vaughan, vice president of business development and financial planning for Colorado-based Catholic Health Initiatives and Virtual Health Services, says his 93-hospital system, which operates in mostly rural areas in 18 states, has found success with a "virtual pharmacy."

"My interest in telehealth and technology-enabled health is to leverage assets of delivery to deliver similar quality at decreased expense," Vaughan said during a panel on incorporating tech into the current workflow at the mHealth + Telehealth World 2014 conference in Boston. "Let's disrupt the current workflow."

Fellow panelist Ronald Dixon, M.D., a Harvard Medical School professor and director of Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, has this piece of advice. "The most important thing you need is leadership. I think, frankly, that's where there's been a void," he said. "We have to look at new ways of creating revenue other than just cutting expenses."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writer, or contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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