From Canadian Healthcare Technology, May 2013
By Scott Herrmann, Director Mobile Solutions
Mobile health technology transcends the boundaries and delivery limitations of the health care system by filling the gaps in demanding health care services. With a growing aging population and overstrained health care resources, we as community care leaders need to face the reality of the coming years. Innovative thinking that can leverage mHealth technology will transform the way home health and hospice services will be delivered.
A natural fit exists between home health and mobile health, where the ability to deliver care remotely and encourage client engagement is likely to be attractive to community care organizations and other healthcare service providers all with the goal of reducing costs in the entire healthcare system.
Currently, there are significant capital costs and technological hurdles that prevent the development of interconnected mHealth applications. The result of this is client data existing on different applications and platforms, creating silos of stagnant client information rather than interactive systems. Interoperability is the key to many of these applications and today with so many vendors producing their own applications, it may be up to your agency to aggregate the best of the technologies and make the connections for your own enterprise. mHealth data is valuable when it flows securely across applications and platforms and links to the agencies back-end systems, to allow for information to be easily and readily accessible by the entire care team. On a larger scale, if data is shared across the continuum of care connected to the client, then the risk of duplicating information and errors in the client files are reduced enhancing client safety and quality of care.
There are some compelling indicators about the value of using mHealth applications (including those based on mobile technologies) for healthcare. Plus we already know that these next points are facts in North America and Canada.
- Chronic diseases cost more than $50 billion in lost productivity in Canada in a given year (Business of Aging Summit – April 2012)
- In Canada, chronic conditions account for 67% of direct health care costs (PHAC, 2009).
- One-third of Canadians have at least one chronic health condition (Health Council of Canada, 2007). These figures will likely increase, given that the number of Canadians over the age of 65 is expected to rise from 4.2 million in 2005 to 9.8 million by 2036 (Statistics Canada, 2006).
- A single connected medical device (CMD) saves 4–36 minutes of caregiver time daily, while preventing up to 24 data errors per day (Quantifying the Business Value of Medical Device Connectivity, Black Box SME, 2011). We know time saved equals bottom line savings.
- 300 million people in the US and EU have at least one chronic disease; thus it is estimated that 25% of these clients would benefit from wireless home monitoring solutions, and another 50% of clients would benefit from handset integration of existing medical devices (mHealth and Home Monitoring, Berg Insight, 2009)
With a growing aging population, the demand for community care workers is stronger than ever. Using a mobility application or an EHR system will increase efficiency amongst current employees, but will also entice emerging community care workers to your organization.
Your agency’s EHR system should combine health, wellness and clinical data from all applications and mHealth devices used in your agency. Keeping a secure integrated infrastructure of your client’s personal health information across all platforms reduces the risk of duplicated data entry, improves accessibility of client information across the continuum of care, and reduces errors in client files. Staying current with new cutting-edge technology in mHealth should be one of the top goals for community care agencies IT departments. This is not always easy but interoperability of your systems and platforms along with your vendor’s participation is a blue print for client centered connected care in 2013 and beyond.