Check out my latest article in Technology for Doctors, an online publication for which I write a monthly column. You can find it here.
I’d like to hear views on whether we need yet another buzzword. I argue that mHealth will cause more confusion among potential users and divide the health IT community at a time when it should be united.
One my favourite bloggers is Dr. John Halamk, a practicing emergency room physician, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN), Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, and a prolific blogger (I have no idea where he finds the time!). In his most recent blog post, Dr. Halamka notes that “Clinicians have been adopting iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches so fast that they have become the most popular mobile devices at Beth Israel Deaconess”. In this blog post, he describes how they are using a special case at Beth Israel Deaconess that can be disinfected so that these devices can be used in surgery. According to Dr. Halamka, they can even use an iphone with gloves on!
Despite attempts by some to portray physicians as luddites unwilling to use IT in the practice of medicine, a recent survey by QuantiaMD offers some hard data to refute this belief. QuanitaMD is an online physician-to-physician learning collaborative where, according to the company, 1 in 6 U.S. physicians engage, share, and learn from experts and each other.
According to the recently conducted QuantiaMD survey, more than 80% of physicians responding to the survey indicated that they own a mobile device that is capable of downloading applications (including but not limited to smartphones and tablets). This level of adoption is higher than the general population and demonstrates, in my view, a clear physician willingness to use technology when it fits into their workflow (which is highly mobile). Interesting findings from the survey include:
- 44% of physicians who do not yet have a mobile device intend to purchase one in 2011.
- 30% of physicians surveyed indicated that they use a tablet device. Interestingly, 2/3’s of these tablet users employ their tablet in a clinical setting.
- Despite claims that younger doctors are more apt to embrace new technologies than older physicians, the QuanitaMD study shows that interest in tablets holds steady across years of practice and is, according to the survey report, “as high for physicians with 30 years or more of practice as it is for those with 10 years or less”.
- Approximately 2/3’s of survey respondent state they are likely to select an Apple product. 60% of smartphone users indicate that they have an iPhone while nearly all tablet users have an iPad.
How do physician want to use their mobile? According to the QuanitaMD survey, their top interest is access to EMR data. Other desired uses devices for “peer to peer activities” include receiving treatment protocols alerts, and sharing and discussing cases with other physicians. Desired activities that involve patients include e-prescribing, sharing patient education materials, and receiving alerts when patients need follow-up treatment.
A close to home example of how mobile technology can be used for patient care is the Ottawa Hospital’s massive rollout of iPads and other Apple mobile devices. According to recent articles and anecdotal feedback from sources at the Ottawa Hospitals, the clinical community is enthusiastically embracing these new devices.
Glenn Lanteigne and his team at the South West LHIN continue to find new and innovative ways to engage the vendor community. Last fall they instituted the highly successful Vendor Friday series that offers individual vendors the opportunity to meet with LHIN staff plus invited members of the health community. Recognizing the opportunity that a quickly evolving and rapidly growing range of Consumer eHealth technologies presents, Glenn and his team recently announced the first Consumer eHealth Innovation session.
According to a recent chat with Glenn, the Consumer eHealth Innovations sessions will be held periodically throughout year so that vendors can meet with health service providers, physicians and others interested in emerging Consumer eHealth solutions to explore how these technologies can support the LHIN’s eHealth Strategic Plan. The first session will take place on Thursday, June 30th, at the University of Western Ontario’s Research Park Convergence Centre. The invitation on the South West LHIN web site states that attendees will “not only learn about the latest developments in personal health records, patient monitoring, consumer navigation of the health care system, and mobile technologies”, they will also “see how these and other tools support the LHIN’s eHealth Strategic Plan.”
Given the significant interest in Consumer eHealth, I expect that the limited number of spaces for this event will go quickly. RSVP by June 23, either by calling 519-640-2592 or emailing Jordan.lange@LHINS.ON.CA.
OK, I’ve heard the “mHealth” term one too many times and I feel compelled to shout “enough already”. While I think that the ability to put information into the hands of healthcare providers and patients wherever they might be has the potential to transform healthcare, I do NOT believe that applying mobile technologies to the delivery of healthcare services warrants a new word to describe it nor that we should treat it as something fundamentally different from other eHealth technologies. When you strip away the hype, a smartphone is just a computer with a small screen and very long network cable. You still need the same servers and databases as you do for a desktop computer, or a laptop with a wi-fi card, or a netbook with a 3G stick.
Let be crystal clear … I think that making information accessible to people on the move will be transformative. I just don’t think that it is a distinct technology or that we need yet another buzzword. mHealth is NOT distinct from eHealth or Health IT (HIT) and we should banish it from our vocabulary.
A recent article in Healthcare IT News examines the results of a survey conducted by research2guidance. The results of this survey suggests that “in five years the major distribution channel will be doctors prescribing or suggesting applications to patients as a component of treatment.”
Respondents to the research2guidance survey felt the most effective mobile app distribution channels today are:
- App stores – 53%
- Healthcare websites – 49%
- Doctors – 34%
- Hospitals – 31%
- Pharmacies – 16%
This mix will change dramatically in 5 years according to respondents, with healthcare providers growing importance as follows:
- Hospitals – 68%
- Doctors – 65%
- Healthcare websites – 56%
The survey results support Mark’s and my contention that physicians are a key gateway for many eHealth applications, particularly those that interact with patients. For example, we believe that the most successful PHR applications will be those that are recommended by the physician. Since many of these applications will use personal health data collected and managed by the physician, EMR software will play a critical role in the eHealth ecosystem.
The speculation has been building for months about Apple’s impending announcement of a new tablet computer. Well, the day has arrived when we are expected to hear all the juicy details. How Apple can generate such free media attention is absolutely astounding!
Ever since I got my iPod Touch (since replaced by my iPhone), I have longed for a larger form factor iPod Touch like device. The power and simplicity of the iPhone OS and multitouch simply blew me away. Unless there is something about the new device that really turns me off, you can expect that I’ll be in line to buy one of the new devices.
What does my personal desire for an iSlate have to do with eHealth? I believe that Apple is going to create a new class of mobile devices that will do well in the health sector. Given the inherent mobility of most healthcare professionals, I think that this new class of mobile device with its larger screen and light weight will be better suited for many healthcare applications than either a smartphone or a laptop.
I’ll be watching the blogosphere for any and all information related to Apple’s announcement today. Geez, guess I have turned into a Jobs fan boy 🙂