Smartphone and tablet use encourages patients to take control of their health and helps providers meet Meaningful Use requirements
Internet access via mobile devices is expected to surpass desktop access in the next year according to EHR Intelligence, which also notes, “More than 40 percent of travelers use smartphones to check in for flights and nearly 21 percent of mobile phone users reported that they used mobile banking in 2012. Patients are no exception to this trend. Current usage statistics at (Northwestern Memorial Hospital) indicate that 19 percent of patient portal visits were made via mobile devices.”
Providers need to take note: patients are migrating away from home computers towards smartphones and tablets, and this shift can be leveraged to help meet the meaningful use (MU) requirement of patient engagement.
EHR Intelligence continues, at NMH “an estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients have changes in contact, demographics, or insurance information. By simply prompting patients via email to update their insurance information, NMH discovered that nearly one-fifth of patients logged in to access their personal information through a patient-centric platform. Of those patients, 25 percent updated their contact information and 15 percent updated their insurance information.”
This method of patient interaction results in a healthier bottom line as well as a more satisfied patient. Going one step further and encouraging mobile access “truly creates a seamless patient experience,” according to EHR Intelligence. “The platform remembers each patient touch-point as a continuous interaction, and what a patient enters via preregistration on a mobile phone is stored for the patient’s next encounter with that platform on a point-of-service kiosk. This approach means greater continuity, fewer repetitious questions, faster check-ins, less frustration, and ultimately better data.”
mHealth News echoes the call to encourage mobile access to health records, noting that hospitals are having a difficult time “getting users to sign up and ensuring that they access (patient portals) regularly.” They further note, “Patient portals are typically only available on desktops and often require patients to enter credentials such as an e-mail address, user ID, or password for access. This can pose major challenges to geriatric patients or those who do not use e-mail on a regular basis. Accessing patient portals on desktops also raises information security concerns, since multiple users may have access to patient information.
“However, due to the personal nature of smartphones and tablets, it is possible to pre-configure access rights to patient portal for individual users. Also, owing to widespread use, smartphones and tablets may have a better reach with this population. This is especially true for smaller providers, as mobile-based patient portals can be a cost effective way to provide instantaneous online access and exchange of health information.”
mHealth News acknowledges “providers and health IT vendors must recognize the complexity of the mobile device market,” but concludes, “With the focus on Stage 2 compliance, and given the industry’s response to the adoption of mobile technologies in areas such as remote health monitoring and radiology, we can expect mobile health to quickly become the primary driver of effective patient engagement in healthcare.”