By Andy Lurie, Add On Data
Today's healthcare environment is full of uncertainty for healthcare providers, their parents, and the insurance companies that help facilitate medical coverage for millions of Americans. With recent changes to the United States medical insurance policies and changes in reimbursement throughout the industry, costs are expected to rise for the majority of Americans retaining healthcare insurance coverage.
At the same time, healthcare facilities are leveraging mobile technology in new ways — to drive down costs and help keep their services affordable for as many people as possible. Healthcare has been somewhat slow to capitalize on technological improvements over the last 15 years, especially as smartphones have grown in popularity, but patients have made their needs resoundingly clear — just check the statistics!
According to a 2015 report by Referral Md, 52 percent of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones. The market is demanding better connectivity between patients and their care providers — here's how mobile technology is already changing the healthcare industry.
Patients want to be more connected with their physicians, and that starts with quality interactions at the bedside. Healthcare facilities and clinics are investing in mobile computing carts that enable physicians and nurses to access electronic health records (EHR) directly from the patient's bedside. This means the physician and patient can spend more time face-to-face as EHRs are updated, leading to quality interactions and more personalized patient care.
Mobile Carts also facilitate connectivity within the hospital setting. A physician can access a patient's imaging results through the hospital's internal network, open the files at the patient's bedside with a mobile computer, and review the results together with the patient. These interactions enhance the quality of care and improve outcomes by engaging the patient actively in their own care management.
With so many patients using smartphones and other connected devices on a regular basis, telemedicine is an appealing direction for development in the future of healthcare. Using a mobile computer cart equipped with a camera and other peripherals, or on other mobile devices, physicians can conduct appointments with their patients by video conference.
While telemedicine will probably never replace trips to the doctor's office entirely, this mode of treatment has shown a lot of promise in reducing treatment costs for patients suffering from mental illnesses such as depression. Telemedicine reduces many of the external costs that are associated with healthcare delivery, including many that can be prohibitive for the most vulnerable patients. By reducing the cost of transportation from nursing home to the provider, taking time off work, arranging child or elder care, and hours spent in the waiting room, the cost of healthcare delivery is significantly lowered for both the patient and the provider.
Mobile technology is helping to reduce the length of the average hospital stay in the United States, a welcome change for a healthcare environment where bills for overnight hospital stays are prohibitively expensive for many. Wearable devices are enabling physicians to send their patients home earlier, track their conditions with remote monitoring, and reduce the overall cost of hospital visits while enhancing the availability of hospital beds at their healthcare facilities.
With a focus on patients with a high risk of readmission, an Arizona hospital ran a pilot program that reduced hospital charges per patient by an average of $92, 317 over a 6-month period, while simultaneously reducing average days of hospitalization from nearly 14 days to just over 5 and nearly halving the total number of hospital visits. Bio-metric wearables and smartphones are giving patients better control of their own health.
Mobile technology represents an incredible opportunity for hospitals to innovate in the direction of reducing costs while providing the same or better standards of patient care. Mobile computing carts in hospitals allow physicians to better engage patients under their care, telemedicine means that patients can access the care they need from wherever they are, and wearable devices can be used to monitor at-risk patients while minimizing costs throughout the healthcare system.
Mobile technology is rapidly changing the delivery of healthcare — is your hospital leveraging these changes to benefit your patients?