Improving healthcare outcomes through mobile integration

Posted: Oct 12, 2014

In the expanding world of mobile-integrated patient and provider communications, healthcare organizations are faced with a challenge and opportunity: creating best practices for a relatively new way to interact within and around health systems.

It’s a fortuitous alignment that the mHealth revolution (or, rather, evolution) is taking place at the same time that the Joint Commission has identified communication as a major area for improvement in healthcare.

In a way, it’s the ultimate mobile gaming opportunity for the benefit of patients and families: the awarding or deducting of points for more than 20,500 healthcare organizations and programs proceeding through these waters.

So what tools will healthcare providers and systems put in the hands of patients to help them manage their own health? The digital health field is currently in the midst of rapid discovery, creation, testing and figuring it out.

Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky, a social entrepreneur and senior resident in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital, recently explained it very well related to care transitions during a September 26 open mic presented by mHealth News, a publication of HIMSS (the global Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society).

One of Ostrovsky's takeaway messages was this: “What information should we put in front of certain individuals; who should see what; and can we make it so they actually want to use it and it has value?”

Ostrovsky advocates architecting mobile experiences so that they serve up the bare minimum information in order to make use of the information for actionable strategies. "Both patients and providers are getting inundated with entire medical records. Do they need to be?"

In his experiences working with pediatric patients, he has noticed another area of improvement needed: integration of information from the sometimes unofficial members of a child’s care team—the "extended circle" of care.

For example, a doctor may communicate his or her findings and data into a portal as part of a medical record. But there is so much other valuable data out there that could be sought and input from a child’s caregivers, school counselor, social worker, psychologist—the other folks who are a big part of achieving positive outcomes.

The same "extended circle" concept says Ostrovsky can apply to adult patients. Can we use mobile integrated tools to improve data collection, inform care decisions, improve outcomes and reduce costs?

I agree with Ostrovsky that we can.

It's a rapidly evolving time for healthcare communication, data measurement and usage, privacy implications and creating meaning and impact. We have all the incentives we need, the know-how and the business reasons to do it well.

But the even more important reasons are right before us .... the patients and families across our nation and world who turn to our healthcare organizations for help, hope and care.

Prior to founding Mobile First Media and Digital Healthcom Group, John Senall worked for more than two decades as a director of communications for organizations including Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the University at Buffalo and community mental health agencies.