mHealth’s Role in Meaningful Use

Maybe the biggest words in the healthcare world right now are meaningful use.  This is not overly surprising when you consider that doctors could receive tens of thousands of dollars if they can demonstrate meaningful use.  One area that I have not seen much discussion of, when it comes to meaningful use, is the role that mHealth can play in this exciting new area.

One of the editors, Sara Jackson, from Fierce Mobile Healthcare wrote an interesting editorial about the very topic.  She brings up a number of very interesting points on the matter:

Quoting Dr. Jagadish Navare, “Any devices that make it easier for physicians to interact with electronic health records, while maintaining focus on the patient, help to achieve meaningful use by enabling the use of certified EHRs by physicians.”  This is really the overlying theme of the editorial, and really gets to the heart of the topic.  The whole point of EHR’s, meaningful use, and numerous other medical initiatives that are currently taking place is to streamline the healthcare system.  Smartphones provide a valuable link in this endeavor though it is not at the level that many doctors would like.

Remote sensor monitoring is a promising way to meet this “improving quality” criteria, allowing data on patient vitals to be collected automatically and updated to the patient record.  This may be the single simplest advance that could make a huge difference in healthcare efficiency.  I don’t know how many times I have gone to a doctor’s office, been taken into a room and had my vitals taken, then gone back to the waiting room to wait even longer.  So much time could be saved by using mobile devices to take vitals and have it sent straight into an EHR.  There are already wireless devices out there that can take vitals and transmit that information, so I would imagine this development is not too far off.

Facilitating patient and family engagement. On this criteria, patients have made it clear they prefer mobile communication whenever possible (text messaging, email, smartphone apps, etc.)…Larsen also pointed out that patients clearly want information such as health reminders, follow-up messages and preventive care alerts sent electronically.  Really no surprise here.  The world is becoming electronic with everything, and healthcare is no different.  I have a stack of papers on my counter from doctor’s visits for me and my kids mixed in with bills, ads, and various other papers and mail.  No you may say that I just need to be more organized, but how much easier would it be for me to be able to pull up an email, or access an app or website from my doctor that retains the information for as long as I want it.  This would also make it infinitely easier for patients to communicate with their healthcare providers.

The whole editorial is well worth the read and brings up a very interesting topic of discussion.  I really feel like mHealth may be the difference in taking healthcare technology to the next level.  Doctors and patients are going to have to be able to better interface for the next level of technological progress to be achieved.