Well it depends who you ask…
The rapid adoption of mobile devices by individual clinicians, care giver’s and patients is undoubtedly a security issue for CIO’s. But does it also offer salvation for our ailing health service delivery system?
Could sharing information around the new electronic health records also evoke a sharing of responsibilities and management, as our policy makers wish? If so, would this in turn reduce the cost of delivery, avoidable errors, waiting lists, demand for beds and at the same time deliver the aspirational notion of “clinical excellence” in an interoperable health delivery system?
The explosion in the informal use of health-related services and Apps on mobile devices, as well as the cloud-based information offerings that the mobility fraternity can access, will produce a tipping point in the already changing health service delivery models. This is where the demand for real time information from a critical number of parties, including the patient, in any care plan, exceeds the ability or willingness of the custodians of the old centralised systems to respond to the growing expectations. 28% of European doctors use an iPad professionally.
Managing the existing problems of cost, security and compliance is in itself a daunting task, but the real challenge lies in the opportunity to piggy-back off the changing behaviour patterns of mobile users, so as to deliver the core policy changes that are required to make health affordable and even sustainable.
The existing global health trends and relevant government policies can be characterised by a shift towards care in the community and at home, as well as the greater reliance upon shared responsibility and greater self-management by the patient themselves.
As critical mass of adoption occurs the overall effects of health consumers and professionals asserting their growing expectations, will generate strong demand for clinical evidence-based decision making, from the collective experience from the various health systems that are fast becoming interconnected.
Before embarking upon this perilous journey it’s important to have a clear destination endpoint, an agreed journey roadmap with the ability to measure the value of adoption of the new-found mobility capabilities to each party, including the health of the patient. The initial stages are well understood and include reducing existing costs within the enterprise of managing the devices themselves, linking them securely to the internal networks and then defining the governance framework to enable the first set of identified services to be recommended.
The next set of stages will move into the initial value generation mode of operation by addressing internal efficiency, reducing avoidable errors and enhancing decision making. But the tipping point for verifiable public value occurs when a meaningful contribution to patient health outcomes occurs, an example is with regard to the management of chronic disease in the community.
For example, a recent examination of a health region in Australia illustrated that the adoption of an App that could better manage the annual check-up of the key chronic diseases between the multiple care givers could result in a 30% reduction of hospital admissions and over 20% reduction in duplications of medications, appointments and medical testing to each of the specialists per patient per year.
In Australia the Federal Government’s Personal Health Record will be a catalyst for the next wave of health oriented Apps that enable people within the workforce to play a greater role in managing their health, and for care givers to deliver more value to the patient. This will provide the missing link as to why all the parties who hold patient information should finally collaborate around the proven technical task of joining up the many systems to produce a single point of truth for us all.