Smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming a mainstay in hospitals and clinics. Physicians point to three main benefits of mobile devices in healthcare: better staff coordination, improved patient communication, and mobile access to EHRs.
That’s according to a mobile health survey by Physicians Practice, which revealed that most clinicians now use mobile devices at work. Over 75 percent of the practice management website’s readers say they use mobile health in their practice on a weekly basis. That statistic reflects a growing realization among practicing physicians: when properly integrated, mobile devices are a revolutionary clinical tool.
Benefits of mobile devices in healthcare
Physicians say mobile devices already benefit their practice in at least three key ways.
1) Communication between staff members
The most common use of mobile devices in healthcare is to coordinate the care team, mostly through secure messaging.
While countless consumer apps already support texting and calling, there’s a push to use HIPAA-compliant software to ensure patient data stays secure. The result is healthcare communication platforms that bring together calling, texting, paging, screen sharing, and video chat. Examples include Hillrom, Spok, and Halo, just to name a few.
Many apps for clinical workflow and EHR management also use mobile devices to streamline communication with the clinical team. For example, with the mobile dictation and EMR management app Mobius Clinic, doctors can simply tap a team member’s name to automatically send them a message with their location.
These types of solutions leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to make healthcare delivery easier.
2) Patient communication
Smartphones and tablets also make it easier for providers to engage patients through secure text messaging, patient portals, and telemedicine. These technology-enabled forms of patient engagement boost patient satisfaction, loyalty, and health outcomes. Secure messaging also has specific benefits like boosting chronic disease management by ensuring that patients stick with follow-up procedures and return for future appointments.
Meaningful use incentives also accelerated the implementation of patient portals. As of 2015, most hospitals allow patients to view, download, and transmit their health information online. As early as 2016, roughly 60 percent of healthcare professionals reported connecting with patients via mobile-optimized patient portals. Secure portal access via mobile devices is bringing healthcare the on-the-go convenience that smartphones provide in other areas of life.
Secure messaging, whether with staff or patients, remains the primary use of mobile devices in healthcare. But providers are calling for more. According to a HIMSS survey of healthcare professionals, 77 percent of respondents say they want their clinical communications solutions to integrate with workflow management and documentation.
“According to a HIMSS survey of healthcare professionals, 77 percent of respondents say they want their clinical communications solutions to integrate with workflow management and documentation.”
3) Mobile EHR applications
Doctors are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the EHR. Mobile EHR apps can enhance clinical documentation and optimize EMR workflow, saving physicians precious time. Time-saving functions include mobile dictation, photo capture, and secure access to patient charts via smartphones and tablets.
One example is Mobius Clinic, the HIPAA-compliant “remote control for your EMR.” Mobius streamlines clinical documentation and optimizes EMR workflow using medical-grade smartphone dictation, instant image capture, automated vitals collection, and much more. The result is reduced liability, higher insurance approval rates, and smoother interactions between providers and patients.
Clinicians are seeing similar benefits from a growing list of apps that facilitate EHR use from mobile devices. But with over 300,000 mHealth apps on the market, regulation is a major challenge. The industry has presented various initiatives in response to this challenge. One example is Xcertia, an effort to develop guidelines for clinicians to judge mHealth apps based on content, privacy, operability, and security.
While many providers have embraced the benefits of mHealth, others remain hesitant. An AMA survey found that four key concerns hold physicians back from embracing mobile: “Does it work? Will I get paid? Will I get sued? Does it work in my practice?”
While guidelines and industry standards have started addressing these concerns, there’s a need for additional resources and training for providers. We encourage physicians to ask their colleagues what apps and strategies are working for them, knowing that your networks are your best resource.