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Benefits of an Integrated Mobile App for Physicians

January 2013
Healthcare Executive Insight

[PatientKeeper contributed this article, which was excerpted from a PatientKeeper white paper.]

There are good business reasons for hospital executives to champion mHealth: the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices. Mobile health promises improved efficiency through more effective use of clinical resources, better patient care and, ultimately, greater patient satisfaction.

In a sense, the battle already is half won, since many physicians are embracing the core enabling technology. As popular as mobile devices - smartphones and tablets, especially the Apple iPad - have become among physicians, however, they ultimately require mobile medical applications to be useful in the clinical setting. But, generally speaking, the medical apps in use are more consumer- than physician-focused.

Physicians have begun to lobby hospitals to provide them with access to electronic health records (EHRs) on mobile devices. Yet a survey of members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) on smartphone use found that only 18 of the 52 hospitals responding said they allowed smartphones to access the hospital's EHR and other systems. And the majority of physicians using mobile health solutions - 63% of physicians according to a Health Research Institute report - are not connecting to their practice or hospital IT systems.

That could be because most current EHR "mobility" initiatives don't deliver a good user experience. They provide spotty performance and are not designed specifically for a mobile device operating system or to work with a touch screen interface. In effect, remote access results in a worse experience than what users get from the Web-based or desktop EHRs those physicians have avoided in the first place.

To address this problem, single function "point apps" - apps that satisfy one specific aspect of the clinical workflow - have begun to emerge. The good news is these apps are developed specifically for mobile device form factors and operating systems.

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