Electronic Health Records

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Are we close to widespread mHealth adoption?

By Jennifer Bresnick

Since smartphones first hit the market, vendors and developers have been talking up mobile health as the wave of the future: the key to patient engagement, simple chronic disease management, and better communication between patients and providers who just need to swipe a touchscreen to be deeply, intuitively connected.  While the number of patients downloading and using mHealth apps has skyrocketed over the past few years, the industry is still far from accepting the cell phone as a critical piece of the healthcare puzzle.  A poll of HIMSS14 attendees, conducted by Axway, reveals a number of perceived barriers to widespread mHealth adoption, but the worries were coupled with optimism that the obstacles will soon be overcome.

Security was the number one concern among individuals surveyed on the floor at HIMSS14 in Orlando last month.  The risk of a data breach worried 45% of respondents, while many questioned the ability of mHealth to meet patient privacy standards inherent in HIPAA.  Integration of mHealth data, including patient-generated information, was also a top priority.  So far, few organizations have successfully blended mobile data like chronic disease statistics or vital signs with the daily clinical workflow on a large scale, even as amount of patient-provided data is set to grow in the latter stages of meaningful use.

mHealth and telehealth pilots conducted at large organizations like the Department of Veterans Affairs have proved that marrying mobile data with provider monitoring can work effectively to improve care.  Home monitoring for patients with chronic diseases can decrease hospital stays and cut costs, other projects have found, while increasing patient satisfaction.

“The risk of data breaches, HIPAA compliance, and reliability have been some of the biggest issues for the hundreds of payers and providers we’ve worked with,” said Rob Meyer, vice president of solutions, vertical marketing and management, Axway.  “But they do not have to be a barrier. Together we have repeatedly been able to put in place the technology and processes needed to avoid breaches and ensure compliance in major mobile health initiatives.”

“Mobile health is not only helping improve clinical outcomes and lower medical costs, it is also becoming a way to differentiate services and win over new customers as they are given more choices for insurance and providers,” added Meyer.  HIMSS attendees have confidence that the processes in place to conquer their concerns will work, the survey showed.  Ninety percent believe that widespread mHealth adoption will occur within five years, and 38% think that in just one to three years from now, mHealth will be a mainstream fact of life.




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