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Collaboration Through Connected Health

  • August 03, 2015|
  • 3 years ago

by Tom Foley

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Director, Global Health Solution Strategy

Collaboration Through Connected Health

Collaboration is beneficial in nature. And with so many stakeholders working tirelessly to create better care for patients in need, the healthcare environment is a perfect example of the age-old saying that “two heads are better than one.” This same saying can be applied beyond the notion of real-life teams and into technology systems. The right standalone technology is a commodity by itself, but technologies that collaborate have the potential to fundamentally change patient care.

Recently, providers have become privy to the increasing number of patients who are interested in using connected health applications, e.g. wearables and adherence programs, to take ownership in the monitoring of their own health. Additionally, digitally enabled conversations with their healthcare provider are important to them for real-time feedback and efficiency. According to the trends of research, patient expectations and usage of technology for healthcare is only expected to continue in growth.

In an interview for mHealthNews, Jon Mello, the chief operating officer at NavisHealth, and seasoned healthcare IT leader, speaks to the promise that mHealth provides:

“Research shows that 41 percent of patients are actually willing to switch doctors to gain online access to their own EHR data. Consumers use mobile technology in so many other aspects of their lives and they’ve fully embraced it. Remember, mHealth technology is not a disruptive technology – it’s just that providers and patients have never had access to it.”

Consumers are curious about their health and want access to their own personal data, whatever that may mean for them. Mello’s opinion echoes this notion as he claims:

“Consumers want information on their health regardless of where it lies, and the market needs to begin adopting a technology that meets this consumer demand to access vital health information from multiple software platforms, wherever this data resides.”

Numbers from a recent “Use of Mobile Health” report by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) support Mello’s thoughts, with almost 70 percent (n=353) of smartphone users reporting mHealth use, 38.5 percent of the total amount of patients surveyed. A majority of respondents also reported downloading or using a health app (57.2 percent, n=202) or using their phone to track or manage a health condition (54.1 percent, n=191). While lots of patients reported their own mHealth usage, a majority reported that they used mHealth tools infrequently, or less than 3 times a month (69.1 percent, n=241).

As Mello pointed out, providers and patients have not had sufficient access to it until recently. Mobile health technology is still very much in flux as it develops into something that patients and providers can readily embrace. In his interview, Mello went on to emphasize the potential and challenges facing mHealth, stating,

“The mHealth technology that will ultimately capture the market will need to connect physicians’ offices with ambulatory clinics, hospitals, and a range of other healthcare facilities. The challenge: the market doesn’t know what the market doesn’t know. And today, we’re seeing a whole range of mHealth systems emerge in silos, and none of them can communicate with all of the information sources that patients and doctors require.”

The pain point of mHealth doesn’t come in form of unproven success. The findings of NIH’s “Use of Mobile Health” study support the potential role of mHealth in improving disease management among certain groups in need. However, as the report’s conclusion states, “greater involvement of healthcare providers may be important for realizing this potential.”

The hurdle that mHealth technology faces is finding the right technologies, tools, and systems that enable collaboration between all of the relevant players. Additionally, the speed of change and behavioral shift that has occurred thus far hasn’t been easy for providers to adapt to. But, as so many professionals are realizing, the possibility is there and the demand continues. Mello claims:

“mHealth technology is still considered a disruptive technology even though it’s right here in front of us. This is the new generation of telemedicine, but hospital leadership has not caught up. However, even in its relative infancy, the consumer is demanding the use of mobile apps for healthcare even though the capabilities of these tools right now is very limited when you consider the significant possibilities.”

As more industry players begin to vocalize their beliefs, positive experiences, and patient findings regarding mHealth, it is likely that collaboration will continue to grow. With the right technology and use-case scenarios, mHealth has the potential to provide better care where patients need it most – wherever they are.

Reference Articles
1. “mHealth masters: Forget ‘disruptive,’ focus on ‘collaborative'” mHealth News. May 1 2015.
2.  “Use of Mobile Health (mHealth) Tools by Primary Care Patients in the WWAMI Region Practice and Research Network (WPRN)” J Am Board Fam Med. 2014.

3. “Physicians call for greater collaboration for boosting mHealth technologies” Fierce Mobile Healthcare. January 10 2015.