Physicians want patients to use mHealth apps as much as patients themselves do, a new survey by EHR vendor eClinicalWorks says. From scheduling appointments and emailing nurses to receiving follow-up reminders and accessing their own EHR data, mobile smartphone apps have numerous uses before, during, and after a clinical visit, and an overwhelming majority of physicians are eager to embrace the technology.
More than ninety percent of the 650 physicians polled believe that mHealth apps have the potential to improve patient outcomes, and an equal amount would like to see apps give patients the ability to upload data into their personal EHR file. Eighty-nine percent would recommend an app to a patient in the future.
The ability to send patients reminders and alerts topped the mHealth wish list for respondents, followed by allowing patients to access their PHI from mobile devices, making it easier for patients to conduct administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, and getting more accurate self-reported data from patients on a regular basis. Preventative care, diabetes monitoring, weight management, and medication adherence were all areas of opportunity for mHealth apps to address.
The mHealth market is expanding rapidly, and is expected to reach 1.7 billion users worldwide by 2017, according to a recent prediction. Patients are beginning to trust downloadable apps as much as a live clinician even as physicians are starting to accept the idea of patient-reported data being useful for diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment. With mHealth tools projected to save more than $500 billion in productivity, travel, and administrative costs over the next ten years, both consumers and providers are taking notice of the market’s potential.
“In order to transform healthcare, patients need to be engaged,” said Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. “People are invested in and want to be engaged in their health as long as they trust the source of the information.” Apps provided by or otherwise linked to their trusted providers may help drive patient engagement ahead of Stage 2 meaningful use, which requires 5% of patients to access or download their health information online through a portal. With more than half of the survey’s participants representing primary care, the pervasive willingness to adopt mHealth seems to bode well for the Stage 2 requirement and the future of mobile healthcare.