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Getting Your Hands Around Health-Care Technology

by Patrick Yee on Apr 25, 2016

Congratulations, if you’ve got a smartphone, you’re going to have a hand in health-care reform.

According to the Price Waterhouse Cooper Health Research Institute, 2016 is the year that Mobile_phone.jpgcare is going to shift, literally, into consumers’ hands – into their smartphones, to be exact. PwC surveyed consumers in 2013 and 2015 and identified a 100 percent increase in the number of consumers with at least one medical, health or fitness app. While there’s no doubt mobile medical app usage is increasing, not all of them are created equal. So far, real results for many apps have been hard to come by, and the Food & Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission are starting to crack down, particularly on apps that promise consumers that they can diagnose, or even treat disease.

Where I think mobile apps can have an even bigger impact is when they get in the hands of patients and their physicians. When physicians can set up patients with “anywhere-anytime monitoring,” receive the objective data from the mobile app and use it to consistently improve patient outcomes, that’s when mobile medical apps will truly come of age. Patients will absolutely play an important part in this shift, as they take advantage of less costly, but still effective telehealth services. Even when you factor in the cost to equip hospital departments to perform telemedicine, the projected savings over the cost of traditional care are significant. Automated solutions that can track and coordinate the care patients receive at multiple points along the health-care continuum aren’t just on hospitals’ wish lists anymore – they’re becoming reality. Viable apps are out and available in the marketplace today, and more are on the way.

This explosion of technology in palm-sized devices should put health-care organizations of all types on notice and spur clinicians and managers to get a handle on the short-term and long-term implications of living in an “app world.” No matter where your organization is when it comes to mobile health care, you should be engaging in these activities:

Strategic planning around virtual health - When the President of the United States attends the SXSW festival to encourage the tech community to help the government to solve hard problems (health care being one of them), you know technology is here to stay. So take a look at future capital investments in a new light. Think connectivity to patients and partners vs. just bricks and mortar or solitary systems.

Documenting your entire care continuum - As hospitals assume more responsibility for outcomes and more financial risk (think CJR value-based payment model), it’s imperative that administrators know exactly who their partners and suppliers are at every point in the care spectrum. Every partner who handles one or more of the multiple handoffs in a patient’s care and recovery process needs to be known and connected so communication about a patient’s needs is streamlined and effective.

Evaluating mobile and virtual solutions with security, privacy and risk in mind - As mobile adoption continues to rise, so will expectations. This “consumerization” of medical technology changes the game for the functions people want to perform on their mobile devices and how they want to perform them. Hospitals should listen and understand how consumers and partner organizations want to use mobile medicine, but they must withstand the pressure to abandon standards for health-care privacy and security of patient information. By sticking to high standards, hospitals will force technology developers to tackle the issues of security in a way that works for organizations and for patients themselves.

Meet the Author

Patrick Yee is chief technology officer for Ensocare, a company that provides care coordination solutions, risk stratification and readmissions analytics to help ensure that patients get the right care at the right time after discharge.

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