Stop reading this blog and look up. What do you see? I bet the majority of you, especially if you are in a public place, will see most people with their heads down looking at their cell phones (be honest, are you reading this blog on your phone?). Am I right? I bet I am! You can’t go anywhere these days without seeing people, from the ages of 9 to 90 on a cell phone. More and more people are using their cell phones as the ultimate go-to for information. And why not, it has truly become a one stop shop – you can do pretty much everything with a few taps on your cell phone…including managing your health.
Did you know the number of U.S. adults using mobile phones for health-related activities, including looking up health information, grew from 61 million in 2011 to 75 million in 20121? That is an increase of 14 million in one year! With numbers like this, it is no surprise that healthcare organizations are looking to mobile health as an effective tool in helping them not only improve patient care, but also address the demanding regulatory requirements placed upon them, specifically Meaningful Use (MU). “Mobile health refers to health-related services that are supported by mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets. Mobile health technologies can help physicians monitor patient health, collect medical data, deliver information to patients and colleagues, and even provide care at a distance2.”
Though not specifically mentioned in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) recently published MU Stage 2 guidelines, today’s mobile health technology provides an incredible opportunity to meet the demands of MU Stage 2 (and eventually 3), in which the focus revolves around consumer engagement, reduction of disparities and patient access to data and engagement with their provider3. Given the incentivized world of healthcare we now live in, healthcare organizations are eager to implement and use innovative technologies to help them hit the mark. The table below provides some general insights into how mobile health can help address some of the objectives in MU Stage 24.
MU Stage 2 Objective
How Mobile Health Addresses the Objective
|Patient reminders||Specialized mobile applications can be an effective tool for keeping patients informed about upcoming visits and medications. The ‘anytime, anywhere’ aspect of mobile technology enables consumers to receive reminders regardless of where they’re physically located, thus helping reduce ‘no-shows’ and eventually enhancing clinical outcomes|
|Clinical summaries for each office visit||Mobile applications allow providers to deliver the clinical summary at a more convenient time, rather than spending time during the visit to physically complete it hand it over to the patient which would reduce the duration of an appointment|
|Patient-specific education resources||The mobile device becomes a simple, familiar and intuitive interface to share educational resources, without complex technological dependencies and access controls.|
|View online, download and transmit health information||Patient portals are being developed to help achieve this objective, however, many hospitals are facing difficulties with adoption – mainly, getting users to sign up and ensuring that they access the portal regularly. Also, patient portals are typically only available on desktops and often require patients to enter credentials such as an e-mail address, user ID or password for access, which raises information security concerns, since multiple users may have access to patient information on the desktop. With smartphones and tablets, it is possible to pre-configure access rights to patient portal for individual users. For smaller providers, as mobile-based patient portals can be a cost effective way to provide instantaneous online access and exchange of health information.|
|Online access to discharge information|
|Secure message for patient communication|
Information collected and combined from3: http://www.mhealthnews.com/blog/patient-engagement-mobile-health-and-meaningful-use?single-page=true
MU objectives and associated incentives aside, mobile health has the opportunity to change how healthcare professionals and patients access health information, in turn, increasing patient engagement, coordination of care and paving the way for improved decisions and outcomes. Despite the minimal mention of mobile health in the near 700 page MU Stage 2 guidelines, with effects such as this, how can anyone question the meaningful use of mobile health?
Are you using mobile technologies to manage your healthcare?
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