Transitioning to Mobile Health Care: Innovations in mHealth
The rise of mobility and the rapid proliferation of devices are forcing businesses in all industries to adopt new mobile strategies. The mobile health care industry in particular can benefit greatly by adopting “mobile health” (mHealth) technologies. Most health care professionals and patients are already using smartphones or tablets for both work and personal use, and expect instantaneous access to health care information from remote locations. With mHealth technologies in place, health care professionals can streamline their operations, provide better service and improve the overall experience for patients.
Streamlining the Process
Traditionally, administrative processes such as scheduling and registration have been handled manually in health care organizations, an inefficient process that can cause long wait times. Many hospitals are understaffed, which compounds the problem. With mobile apps, patients and providers can handle the process online through multiple mobile devices. That cuts overhead, saves time for health care administrators, and makes it simpler for patients to navigate the system.
Collaboration and Communication
The nature of health care environments is inherently dispersed. Patients often move through many departments — including outpatient and inpatient facilities, radiology, pharmacies, emergency rooms, physical therapy clinics, operation rooms and labs — and their health records need to follow them. With mobile health care, organizations can enable workers in various departments to keep track of critical health records and deliver timely care as patients move through the system. mHealth apps also make it easier for doctors and patients to communicate directly about diagnoses, treatments or general education and consultations.
Managing and Working With Electronic Health Records
Managing documentation of patient information, diagnoses, hospital visits, prescriptions, treatment plans and so on has been a time-consuming and difficult task for health care providers. It requires substantial storage space and entire teams to file, sort and retrieve information. It is also prone to human error. By centralizing electronic health records (EHRs) on secure servers in a centralized data center, and accessing those records through a mobile system, health care professionals can create and edit EHRs from remote locations when necessary. They can also view imaging scans and make accurate diagnoses on-demand from multiple devices.
Inventory and Supply Chain Management
It should go without saying that health care organizations need to have sufficient supplies to deliver quality care to patients, just as any business needs to have the products or services that they offer available. Yet, a specific use case exists in the health care industry — pharmaceutical inventory management. Pharmacies stock hundreds of products, most of which will expire if unused. With mobile apps, health care professionals can view what’s in stock and what’s available, and then work directly with pharmaceutical companies in real time to ensure requirements are met.
Mobility and the proliferation of devices are trends that no business can afford to ignore. The health care industry has very specific pain points that the use of mobile health care can ease. And the industry is already rapidly transitioning to a mobile, cloud-based world. Industry leaders and practitioners will be meeting at the 2015 mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C., to discuss innovations in the space.