Clinical mobility innovation will change the way providers monitor and communicate with patients altering the way healthcare is delivered.
A survey by Pew research Centre reveals that 69 percent of US adults track at least one health indicator such as weight and glucose levels. Within this group, 21 percent use mobile technology to track health information. Another survey by the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) notes that 90 percent of healthcare providers use one form of mobile device or another to access information at their workplaces.
While this illustrates the continuing rise of mobile health technology in healthcare sector, the next wave of digital health technology innovation may propel us further towards achieving ‘healthcare anywhere’ dream. Some pilot programs already provide us with glimpses of possibilities and challenges of coming clinical mobility revolution.
1. Clinical Mobility Drives Collaboration
Imagine virtual clinics and virtual care teams where patients and physicians interact with each other virtually. This saves time and reduces inconvenience. Patients discharged from hospitals will receive instructions and advice from caregivers through mobile technology platforms.
One medical team can ‘virtually hand-off’ the patient to another team safely and efficiently to administer and supervise patients’ post-acute care. This clinical mobility-enabling collaboration has huge potential for reducing readmissions, improving workforce utilization and cutting down on healthcare costs.
The Cleveland Clinic conducted one such mobile health technology program wherein discharged patients were provided with medication consultation via virtual pharmacists. This resulted in better medication adherence, discharge planning and discharge care coordination.
2. Clinical Mobility Improves Health Information Delivery
Most patients have problems retaining health information and call back their physician after discharge. Clinicians can use mobile health networks to supplement health-related information offered at the time of discharge and also direct patients to mobile applications designed to provide in-depth disease-specific information in an easy-to-understand way to be consumed by patients.
3. Clinical Mobility Improves Healthcare Workflow
Clinical mobility eases the workflow rather than add one more layer of technology with accompanied learning curve. While the new generation of healthcare providers are pretty good at adopting technology-driven approaches to healthcare, even the older generation of caregivers as well as patients are adjusting well to the digital health technology.
Such clinical mobility adoption is most evident in eldercare segment. Telemonitoring of vital signs of ageing patients, video-conferencing with the caregivers and virtual interactions with physicians are increasingly being used in many eldercare homes and communities. Few communities even experimented with installing remote motion sensors in homes to track movements to detect gait-related disturbances earlier than normal with satisfactory results.
Many studies have documented quantifiable benefits of such a digital health technology-led approach in the form of reduced false alarms, better coordination of nurses and clinicians and decreased operating costs.
4. Clinical Mobility Integrates Healthcare with Lifestyle
Using diverse tools to perform diverse tasks will become passé. Advances in technology will integrate various digital health tools currently being used into few of much smaller and much smarter devices that are capable of performing a diverse range of functions.
Similar to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model in the Information Technology industry, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) will increasingly gain popularity in healthcare. Smartphone and television will serve as universal platforms on which various other medical applications can be integrated. Various specialty chronic care apps and plug-and-play medical devices will be added to smartphones and televisions making their integration and operation seamless.
5. Clinical Mobility Untethers Patients and Physicians
As more and more governments and insurance-providers pressurise healthcare institutions to move from pay-for-volume to pay-for-performance model, healthcare industry will increasingly look for cost-effective, user-friendly solutions to reduce readmissions and improve healthcare outcomes in a bid to reduce costs.
In such an environment, digital health technology will play a vital role in expanding the reach of services delivered and in optimal utilisation of workforce. Clinical mobility helps untether patients from caregivers so that providers can access information to provide healthcare anywhere and at anytime and patients can also access the same information when and where they need it.
Such seamless communication facilitates stronger relationships between patient and provider and also among the providers. This will change the healthcare delivery in the same way as internet changed retail business.