With healthcare technology becoming more and more popular, many physicians are looking for ways to utilize it in ways that will help them connect with patients and also make the patients’ experience more pleasant and seamless.
Smart devices, like the iPad, allow easier sharing of information between doctors and patients, optimization of care, and streamlined workflows.
Below are some easy ways to improve patient care and engagement:
Reception area- patients can become very stressed waiting to be seen by their doctor, especially if the check-in process is disorganized. Having patients use iPads equipped with apps for checking in, filling out paperwork, and even loaded with medical-related articles for entertainment as they wait will make their experience a pleasant one.
Treatment/consultation room- providing patients with images of their x-rays or scans and interactive demos will help them get a better understanding of their condition and treatment.
Practice administration- presenting practice updates and patient information to your team in an interactive way allows them to be more involved. Using a cloud system allows them to access documents, make notes, share their opinions, progress, etc.
Appointment management- providing patients with apps that allow them to make, confirm, cancel, and check on appointments makes their time commitment quicker and therefore more convenient.
Access on the go- mobile apps allow physicians to view appointment and patient information remotely from virtually any location, which optimizes patient care.
The SMART (Substitutable Medical Apps and Reusable Technology) platform has started an advisory committee to help support the growth of modular apps for EHRs. The committee includes representatives from The Advisory Board Company, AARP, BMJ, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, England National Health Service, Hospital Corporation of America, Eli Lilly and Company, MyHealthBook, Polygot Systems, Surescripts, and professor Clayton Christensen from the Harvard Business School.
The responsibilities of the committee are to advise on how to scale adoption as well as use SMART themselves. They will help create an environment where SMART is the standard for mobile health, with a higher demand for the economy of scale provided by a SMART API.
SMART was created to allow app developers to have a large market for innovation and the ability to run apps, specifically mobile medical apps, anywhere. The current environment for innovation is limited and companies have a hard time getting their products off the ground. SMART counteracts this issue and allows quicker deployment into hospitals and integration from a one-off perspective.
SMART API allows health IT platforms and EHRs to connect to specifically designed HTML5 or iOS apps. The app has already demonstrated use and has a number of large vendors utilizing it.
The latest estimates from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services show that 85% of Meaningful Use early adopters attested successfully for the third consecutive year.
Last year, 224,000 total eligible professionals attested. Below is a breakdown of that number:
63,000 first-year attesters
114,000 second-year attesters
47,000 third-year attesters
However the majority of eligible providers have attested to stage 1 only, with a limited number moving on to stage 2 adoption. Providers are not worried because while stage 2 is off to a slow start, they are optimistic that it will pick up.
Some other statistics show:
94% of eligible hospitals have registered for Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs
90% of hospitals have been paid through the program
56% of professionals are registered for Medicare
28% of professionals are registered for Medicaid
15% of professionals have not registered for either
In February, 9,387 providers registered for the EHR incentive program, for a total of 458,137 eligible providers who are registered.
Marketing firm MedData Group recently surveyed over 500 physicians on their perceptions of health technology. The study found that contrary to popular belief, doctors are not resistant to new technology, but rather they embrace it. Many physicians use mobile apps to monitor medication interactions and find that it makes them more efficient in quality of care and communicating with patients.
As physicians become more comfortable and familiar with using mobile apps, their desire for more ways to utilize them grows. Some general suggestions from the physicians included easier access to EHRs, the ability to send secure texts, and get drug, device, and diagnosis information at the point of care.
Overall, physicians remained optimistic about the opportunities that a fully connected healthcare environment would present, especially in reference to patient care.
Other results included:
One in four physicians use mobile apps to help with diagnosis
>20% use them for access to EHRs, labs, images & tests, clinical notes, or e-prescribing
60% want mobile access to EHRs
< 40% would use secure texting
Meditab allows physicians to stay connected to patients outside the office with IMSGo, which provides access to patient records from any mobile device. The solution gives providers unparalleled access to critical patient data anywhere, at any time. For more information, visit http://www.meditab.com/ehr-solutions/mobile-ehr/.
According to the latest white paper released by Gary & Mary West Health Institute and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology, greater interoperability of mobile medical devices not only allows for better communication, but has the potential to save the nation more than $30 billion a year in wasteful healthcare spending.
Greater medical device interoperability will lead to increased efficiency, improved quality, and more affordable care. Commonly adopted standards can accelerate the move toward greater medical device interoperability and potentially reduce the cost of achieving it.
The paper also highlights that while mobile interoperability is being quickly adopted, some healthcare professionals are treading lightly. They claim there is still work to be done to bring the newly developed mobile health IT to mainstream usage and understand its vast benefits on a larger scale.
The goal of the ONC is to make the technology patient-centered, allowing a patient’s health information to be accessible to them wherever they get their care. The main objective is to help improve patient care and health at lower costs.
The success and expansion of healthcare IT is dependent on patient engagement. However the question many providers have is how to assure that patients are comfortable using the technology and will implement it as part of their daily lives. Stage 2 meaningful use mandates that 5% of patients view, download, and transmit their own health data via EHRs, but apart from that, providers are still responsible for getting patients to get involved organically.
The upcoming Healthcare Business Intelligence Forum in Washington will provide a platform for experts in the industry to discuss ways in which to communicate better with patients on the benefits of healthcare IT, so they are more receptive to it. Physicians and patients must work in tandem for effective engagement to work.
The current state of patient engagement is still in the early phases. Physicians are concerned with presenting healthcare IT in an appealing way so patients acknowledge it, understand its benefits, and are enrolled in the system.
Some studies have found that the patients with the best reaction to healthcare IT are the ones that are an active part of the team, who are interested in learning about it, not just bystanders. The patients that feel heard when they express their concerns, goals, and expectations have the most positive outlook on the success of healthcare IT.
Patients are no longer bystanders, they are being proactive about their healthcare and the intersection of new models of care, with an emphasis on keeping people healthy, and population health strategies, are really adding a dimension of urgency to patient engagement efforts.
During Stage 2 of EHR adoption and implementation, providers will focus more on filling in the gaps with the information used in Stage 1 rather than working on improvements, which is a process that will happen in a later stage. In addition, Stage 2 of the incentive program will center on patient engagement.
According to Fred Trotter, COO of Open Source Health Corporation, the practices that are keeping up with Stage 2 are doing very well and are experiencing positive results. However he says that smaller practices that are waiting to hear results before deciding to commit to the conversion have perhaps already waited too long. They are not giving themselves enough time to adapt to Meaningful Use and work out the kinks, so by the time Stage 3 comes into play they will face an uphill climb with difficult constraints.
The goal is for healthcare providers to implement EHRs and Meaningful Use now so their staff and patients feel comfortable with it before the next stages come into play.
An article in Healthcare IT News recently discussed some of the changes that must take place in order to redesign healthcare and the idea that do so effectively, it’s necessary to become new students of the problem – to erase the assumptions we have and approach challenges with a fresh mind.
Instead of simply focusing on the tools and technology of the trade, it will be more effective to interact with those in the industry and collaborate to create an ecosystem focused on care – one that delivers real and meaningful value in people’s lives.
The aim is to understand the users of the new technology, their workflow, challenges, and hopes, to better connect patients to the resources they need. Three key points about technology:
• Technology translates. It turns typing, touching and speaking into digital information and it can translate medical-pharmacological-insurance terminology into something patients can understand.
• Technology connects. It obliterates the distance between any two points on the network, moving information from parent to child, laboratory to bedside, exam room to living room.
• Technology tracks. It records, stores and plays back. It calls up events, X-rays and prescription orders. It can tell you how many steps you took and how fast you ran last week. It can tell you when to refill a prescription and congratulate you when you’ve achieved a goal.
Ultimately, technology should be the wind at our backs and not in our faces – meaning it should inspire and help users, not make them more frustrated.
The dynamic between doctors and nurses has always been a fragile one. Many times the nature of the work creates tense situations, but now a new stimulation game, highlighted in a recent Fierce Health IT article, shows them how to work more collaboratively and communicate better for the sake of their patients. It can even help individuals avoid conflicts in order to prevent dangerous or sometimes fatal miscommunications.
The game was federally funded and developed by researchers at the College of Nursing at University of Texas at Arlington, University of Texas at Dallas, and Baylor Scott & White Health. It was tested on real healthcare practitioners to gauge their feedback before it was released. Data was gathered before the participants played the game, in the roles of nurses and doctors, and after the game, to see if their communication strategies changed. The results from this are still being calculated and will be released in a report.
It seems using gaming as a teaching tool is a growing trend, as one payer says it has figured out how to break down complicated benefit information by using videos, quizzes and games on a new platform called Healthcare University. Using video games can be an appealing way to engage users while having impactful benefits in the long run.