Mobile Phones “Always There Always On”
The new patient monitoring tool may not be quantifiable right now, but industry experts state that mobility is the next big thing to happen to the healthcare and medical research industry By Vikrant Patnaik
he healthcare and medical research field is experiencing rapid transitions. With continuous innovation in technologies, healthcare is bringing many better facets of treatment and patient care forward, giving the patients the best of healthcare experience that one could receive. With the growth and ease to access internet and other upcoming technologies, there have been a plethora of changes happening across industries and the healthcare and medical research industries are no exception to it. As on today, the mere definition of healthcare initiatives for hospitals has broadened its horizons from just dispensing basic “treatment” to having more patient concentric services and thus, satisfaction. In this era, with technologies such as internet and mobiles playing a pivotal role in our lives, ensure that such services are within the reach of the common man and patients coming from different socioeconomic strata. Well, what we are talking about is bringing on board a smoother registration processes, better patient care in the hospital premises, improved preoperative observation and post operative care and a robust administration tool. It is a fact that hospital staff and doctors spend large amounts of time in capturing and accessing patient information, which can be reduced to a great extent using a combination of internet’s allied services and mobile technology. Getting quicker and accurate information for quick decision making and actions that are more “to the point” oriented are just some key advantages of
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mobility services in a healthcare environment and which is the need of the hour. While the in-hospital service and experience is commendable today, there still is a large gap in terms of monitoring patients once prescribed to a particular treatment or discharged post treatment. It is quite a hassle for physicians and doctors to keep a track on patients’ health status and there is an innate requirement of continuously monitoring a patient’s health given the support that we can get from technology. Although there are ways and means for keeping a check on the patient’s status of health, we must look at new and innovative ways that are not only simple to use but are omnipresent. If one gets to thinking, the only common denominator that exists across different societal levels is a mobile phone, from a vegetable vendor to an auto-rickshaw driver to a high flying business or corporate person; most of them carry at least one mobile device if not two.
Introduction to smart phones With the different types of mobile phones available in the market, access and affordability has increased multifold. Mobile devices with the latest features such as touch, internet, applications and 3G have made it an extremely handy device that can perform almost everything at the push of a button or a mere “touch”. Healthcare and self care application can be developed allowing both patients and the medical fraternity to use it for multiple functions. Custom enterprise level applications can
be developed for hospital staff for better hospital and patient management. With robust and secure back end web based functions to support, the turn around time can be improved by many folds. Mobile technology can be used in areas like patient monitoring, treatment adherence, geriatric care and wellness, post operative care and follow up, remote patient data capture, chronic disease management, ante natal and maternity care, rural health, stepping up from EMR (Electronic Medical Records) to MMR (Mobile Medical Records), hospital bed side monitoring systems using mobile technology and many more. There are several areas where mobile technology can be used to improve efficiency, save time and costs in healthcare institutions and regulated research, including clinical trials. Some of the key areas that encompass the use of mobile and internet technologies with some business concepts and implementation techniques are discussed ahead. Patient records in hospitals are an important source of information for medical practitioners and the hospital staff to take critical decisions. With primitive methods still being used largely to capture medical records, a systematic and compliant system to record, store and retrieve information is the need of the hour for instant and real time data capture and viewing by the medical staff. An instance of which would be, key patient records should be entered and found quickly in the doctor /nurse/ HOD‘s mobile phone and further can also
be checked on their computers. Nurses can provide real time patient health status information to the doctors from the patient’s bed side using a mobile phone that allows every nurse to log in with a unique id thus keeping all patients information and transaction secure and audit trailed, thereby saving time on multiple rounds to all wards, resources, reducing logistics and space to store and keep all these paper based records. In multi-specialty hospitals, huge paper inventories are made on a day to day basis, which makes retrieval of records delayed and more tedious. Being aware of the fact that time is something that is most precious in a hospital environment; such delays make patient experience sour, making them frustrated. A simple and handy method of patient data collection such as using the mobile phone will save hospital staff from the burden of tedious pen and paper data capture, storage and retrieval. Since the security of patient data is important, the information can be stored in compliant server farms that follow global standards of compliance regulations and security guidelines. It thus makes a lot of sense for a healthcare institution or an organisation to ramp up their turn around time in terms of internal operations etc.
At this point, our thoughts should be more oriented towards “Patient Care and the Patient” wherein the present day technology should be leveraged, to be at par with the fast approaching future and the growing competition globally.
Opportunity and its cost implications Using latest trends and technologies in a sector that evades changes is a challenge. The benefits of technology can be explained and quantified with a credible ROI (Return on Investment). Patient Health is the most important fact on which the healthcare industry thrives is the patients’ health status and being, which directly or indirectly brings a cost value to the organization implementing such solutions. Better healthcare service and patient experience brings in belief and faith towards a particular institution and thereby more loyalty towards a particular brand – “building up Brand Equity”. Reminder systems and automatic storage of data in the central HIS servers would allow reduce logistics and administration and ensure quick retrieval of data as against a paper based approach, thereby saving on time and money both. Doctors can use their computer systems to track the compliance
levels of the patients thereby being sure that their patient’s health is monitored on a regular basis. Reminders could also be sent as interventional messages and for doctors’ visits, which would ensure that the patient will come for his/her visit. On the whole we are looking at a considerable return on investment for hospitals and healthcare institutions over a period of time. Several other areas in the healthcare sector can benefit from mobile technology, some of which are widely known but less used. Industries globally have been using mobile technology and reaping benefits from it. Healthcare providers gain more while improving patient monitoring by providing them with our mobile competencies. It would be our primary motto and consistent effort to keep the healthcare fraternity educated and execute such advancements and initiatives towards making the patient’s health better.
AUTHOR Vikrant Patnaik Sr Manager, Global Marketing and Business Communications NowPos M-Solutions Pvt Ltd www.padisys.com
february / 2012 www.ehealthonline.org