When it comes to combining personal health with the convenience of mobile devices, what do smartphone users really want? A recent study suggests that people want to be fully engaged online, including accessing their health records and communicating with their healthcare providers—all from their phones and tablets. It’s a great idea in theory, but can everything actually fit into one application?
Let’s look at the two main components:
1. Mobile Electronic Medical Records (EMR)
The research study, designed by New York University and published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, indicates that over 60 percent of the patients interviewed want to use their mobile devices to view their health records and graph changes in their health status over time.
Of course, people will only enter personal data if they trust the app—and developer—to keep their information private and secure. Any such software must be HIPAA-compliant, and as explained by survey respondents, apps developed by known healthcare vendors are more likely to win people’s trust. One well-known example is Epic’s MyChart platform, which allows individuals to see their health and prescription information, review the outcomes of office visits, and list upcoming appointments.
2. Mobile Conferencing with Healthcare Providers
The researchers also found that 57 percent of participants wanted an app that could make appointments or connect directly to their doctors. “Connecting” includes text messages, sending a list of symptoms for a diagnosis, or even speaking with care providers online.
In this context, sending text messages securely is easier than secure video conferencing; Epic’s MyChart offers both patients and providers the ability to communicate through text messages. However, many such systems work like email: the patient sends a message for the nurse to view at his/her leisure. A live chat, whether via text message or video conferencing, requires extra security precautions, audio and video hardware, and scheduling considerations. As an example, swyMed offers this capability without putting onerous requirements on patients or providers; by integrating advance scheduling of calls, HIPAA-compliant secure video conferencing, and live text chat, swyMed releases both providers and patients from the constraints and inconvenience of in-office visits.
Put It All Together…
Both of these categories are considered mobile health (mHealth), but to the best of our knowledge, they remain separate entities. The million-dollar question is how to combine mobile EMR with mobile conferencing in one application—and we’re just as excited as you are to see what hits the market!