Mobile Technology and Mobile Maturity in Healthcare
Healthcare is becoming a more consumerized industry every day, and mobile technology is helping it sprint toward the future.
If you’d said even thirty or forty years ago that a handheld computer device could be used to schedule a medical appointment or perform a healthcare diagnostic test, everyone would’ve said you’ve been watching too much Star Trek. Yet, here we are in 2018, using mobile technology in healthcare in ways unimagined just years ago.
The ability to get medical information wherever we are has led to a quicker, more effective experience for consumers and healthcare professionals alike. Mobile healthcare is growing fast, thanks to mobile medical tools and smart devices that keep home care providers seamlessly connected to their patients. Need to send sleep apnea readings to the doctor? It can be done remotely, even in real-time, thanks to mobile medical technology.
Many healthcare providers are trying out mobile medical tools, but few have reached full “mobile maturity.” In order to stay competitive in today’s evolving market, healthcare organizations have to make mobile-first technologies a core part of their technology stack—not an afterthought.
How Mobile Technology is Changing Healthcare
Mobile technology in healthcare is more than just a shift from paper to electronic records. It can streamline care, reduce errors, reduce costs, and much more.
Mobile technology offers always up-to-date information at a glance. For example, mobile carting allows access to any information regarding the patient’s care at the touch of a button. Images, lab reports, medication, vital signs—everything is available right at the patient’s bedside, no matter where that bed is.
Or, for example, a patient needs to go to urgent care, and a follow-up appointment is needed with their primary care provider. The patient or guardian doesn’t need to keep track of a paper referral or care summary because the information can be stored in an interoperable record system for an entire health network. All the critical information lives in same system from the moment a nurse completes an assessment of the patient on their smartphone, to the time when a physician accesses those diagnostic notes weeks later during the follow up appointment. Mobile technology makes it possible, even if it’s a multi-location health system.
How about the way those appointments were booked for urgent care and the primary care provider? It is quickly becoming the industry standard to offer convenient appointment booking through online or mobile apps. This is more convenient for the patient, and it gives healthcare providers live, up-to-date schedules that immediately reflect cancellations and last-minute bookings.
This is especially important for mobile healthcare workers, who need up-to-the-minute schedules to avoid unnecessary travel and confused patients. Mobile technology is game-changing for home health aides, nurses, and workers, as well as administrative staff: it allows home health workers to quickly communicate with colleagues, collect data on the go, and get real-time updates, and it gives care coordinators the tools to match patients with providers based on needs, availability, and business priorities.
Clearly, mobile technology is a key component of the consumerization of healthcare. It’s convenient, saves time and money, and cuts down on the manual work that leads to errors.
Mobile Maturity Sets Healthcare Providers Apart
As mobile technology in healthcare expands and improves, some providers will adapt—and some won’t. The ones who do will be set themselves apart from the competition in several ways:
- More accessible healthcare. Mobile technology makes it possible deliver high-quality, coordinated care to be delivered virtually anywhere—even at a patient’s home or via telemedicine. This is a huge benefit for healthcare consumers who live in more isolated areas or are unable to travel due to health problems.
- Customer centricity. With the high expectations of consumer services setting the bar for every industry, mobile providers who have up-to-date appointment schedules, patient histories, and more at their fingertips will be better equipped to deliver quality care experiences.
- Data to improve efficiencies. Mobile technology in healthcare eliminates many manual processes that make your data untrustworthy. By automating data collection and centralizing data points, managers can analyze reliable data easily and find efficiencies to help the business grow.
- Decreased readmissions. Readmissions are costly to providers and consumers alike. Remote monitoring (such as a blood glucose monitoring) can alert providers to a problem early, such as medication adjustments needed for diabetes, before it develops into something more serious.
- Improved standards for patient care. While technology is far from infallible, it can help providers reduce error rates while improving patient care standards, thus providing more overall value for healthcare consumers. For example, among nurses surveyed, 61% said mobile technology reduced medication errors, and 46% said it helped reduce preventable medical errors.
- Reduced paperwork. When everything is done online, patients and providers will no longer need to fill out lengthy forms, saving time and money and creating a more sustainable workplace.
- Reduced in-office and hospital visits. Some illnesses need in-person care in a clinical setting, but many ailments do not. Mobile healthcare technology allows patients to video chat with a physician, or get answers to their questions through a website or hotline without having to leave home. This means quicker resolution for patients, and reduced burden on hospitals and medical offices.
- Seamless data flow. With connected systems, data flows effortlessly from the moment that first appointment is made. Any pertinent information about a patient is accessible to any provider who needs it at any time, anywhere, while maintaining security.
Mobile Maturity Challenges
There is no doubt that mobile technology has the opportunity to revolutionize the healthcare industry in ways we never thought possible, but it’s not without its challenges.
Mobile maturity in healthcare has brought about the need for revised business processes. This includes changing provider behavior to adapt to mobile technology, implementing interoperable software, increasing IT support, and realigning staffing.
Security is also a growing concern as healthcare organizations mature their technologies. Any kind of personal data can be hacked, and healthcare data is no exception.
Due to the risk of having sensitive information compromised, the storage of medical data is highly regulated, and it’s crucial for providers to remain compliant with HIPAA, GDPR, and other data protection regulations.
What’s Next for Mobile Tech?
Looking to the future of mobile healthcare, we can expect amazing things—more and more healthcare providers making house calls in person or via video chat, easier collaboration between healthcare professionals and consumers, and technology that surpasses our wildest dreams.