In terms of HealthIT, the 'Arms Race' is being won by two types of ammunition – EHRs & mHealth. While the race to improve, innovate and attest takes center stage, very few stakeholders have come to realize that each go hand-in-hand.
Recent discussions have skewed this idea, as many point to EHRs as scapegoat for a host of problems in the health system and label mHealth as a money-driven industry that may be ineffective. In looking at each as an individual entity, this might be true – however, if we begin to look at EHRs & mHealth in unison, it begins to emerge that we may be heading down the right track in integrating technology and healthcare.
Failing to Attest to EHRs Adaptation
A major facet of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was the investment in EHRs that began in 2009 and has been rolled out in phases. Under Meaningful Use, healthcare stakeholders are to attest to EHR use and implementation over stages. Current adaptation has even been further encouraged with economic incentives under the HITECH Act.
For an information-intensive industry, the divide and resistance to the modernization of its information management practices is alarming. Current EHRs have been labeled imperfect – harder to use than they should be and supported with an underdeveloped infrastructure with limited interoperability. Providers also claim that there is little immediate impact on their bottom line, as patients gain but clinicians and hospitals incur costs – in dollars, time and disrupted routines – that current payment systems (federal incentives included) only partly cover.
Regardless of the satisfaction with the current system in place, it remains clear that there is high clinical value for patients – mistakes avoided, drug interactions detected, preventive services delivered that might have been overlooked, etc. In fact, since the HITECH Act was passed, 81% of physicians and 97% of hospitals have EHRs that qualify for incentive payments from the federal government.
EHRs & mHealth Working Together
Today, 76% still access EHRs via a desktop or laptop, while only 26% use a tablet or smartphone. Many believe that mHealth can help facilitate better attestation to EHR meaningful use. A recent survey by EHR evaluation site Software Advice investigated the role mHealth plays in accessing a provider’s EHR platform and found that many mHealth users are better at using electronic health records and getting more out of them than doctors who use desktops or laptops.
The findings revealed some key differences in how mhealth and regular users each perceived working with EHRs. Here are some key findings:
58% of those accessing EHRs from a mobile device reported they were “very satisfied” with the EHR – but only 28% of non-mobile users were that happy.
mHealth users appear to be more familiar with EHR technology and perhaps more apt to understand it.
Mobile users often access EHRs at home, after work, and more apt to work their way through any difficulties.
Clinicians who can access EHRs at the bedside, in the corridors or in the lab are likely getting more work done than the doctor or nurse who has to find the time in a busy day to sit down at a computer workstation or power up the laptop.
89% of primary care and internal medicine physicians already using smartphones to communicate with other staff, use those same devices to access EHRs.
While the improved experience and satisfaction amongst mHealth users may help facilitate the user-attestation to an EHR system, their implementation remains a difficult and expensive task. However, providers haven’t given up on implementing these systems just yet. 28% of those surveyed expect to increase their investment in EHR technology through the end of the year, while 54 percent said they’d keep their level of investment the same.
With our latest telehealth services coming in 2015, PayerFusion hopes to offer a complete solution to bridge the gap between patients and providers when it comes to encourage mHealth as a complement to EHR systems being developed across the nation. Our electronic PHR, medical record recovery, e-consultation, and second medical opinion services will all be available via a mobile app on both iOS and Android platforms, supported with an online portal. The platform will enable patients to manage their medical information and connect it with their providers, while granting our case management team continued access to further improve cost-containment. For more information, contact a representative here at firstname.lastname@example.org.