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Healthcare IT struggles to keep up with mobile health demands

Brian Eastwood | Aug. 28, 2013
Healthcare, like most industries, finds its hard to meet the mobility desires of employees (caregivers) and customers (patients). But while healthcare struggles with unique legal and regulatory impediments that other fields don't face, it's also poised to gain much more from what some call a 'mobile revolution.'

Dunbrack describes it as trying to have "a foot in each canoe." But she's optimistic about the future. "There's just so much potential for mobile in healthcare, especially when you consider how mobile the workforce is," she says.

Jennifer Kent, a senior research analyst with Parks Associates, also says she sees the aforementioned challenges as opportunities. Whether organizations are struggling to meet the criteria for EHR meaningful use or reduce hospital readmissions as healthcare reform mandates, they can turn to virtual care to fill the gaps.

Consumers with access to online health services - admittedly less than half of Americans - use them to fill prescriptions, schedule or change the time of an appointment and email a doctor, Kent says, referring to Parks Associates research conducted at the end of 2012.

The "care gap" exists, she adds, when consumers are asked what services they want; these range from live chats with health experts to monitoring their recovery from surgery or prolonged hospitalization.

Ultimately, says healthcare author and entrepreneur Douglas Goldstein, the "mobile" aspect of mobile health matters less than the service and the engagement. (That's a tall order when you consider that Goldstein called the mobile phone the "most important health appliance ever" at the mHealth World Congress.)

Healthcare organizations need to view patient engagement through the lens of shifting their business model from brick and mortar to brick and mobile, packaging their apps to meet the needs of their target audience and finding ways to "stimulate juices and creativity" in order to promote healthcare IT innovation.

The ultimate aim, Goldstein says, to make what you're doing addictive and fun.


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