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Mobile Health to Transform Care: The Case for Adoption Now – Breakaway Thinking

Posted on February 18, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Todd Stansfield from The Breakaway Group (A Xerox Company). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.
Todd Stansfield
Mobile health (mHealth) is here to stay, and you don’t have to look far for proof. Patients now use mHealth to comparison shop basic healthcare services and access test results. Providers use it to increase efficiencies and lower costs. And CIOs use it to get more out of an electronic health record (EHR) while juggling new security challenges from the bring your own device (BYOD) movement.

Perhaps one of mHealth’s greatest areas of impact is providers’ bottom line. A new study finds that baby boomers and millennials prefer providers who incorporate mobile technology into their practices. Seven percent of patients responded that they are willing to leave their current provider for one who offers remote care, a move that could have a significant financial impact on independent physician practices. This is especially clear when considering that an overall 20 percent of patients reported seeing the same doctor for less than 2 years and 14 percent reported not having a doctor. Additionally, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is now offering providers roughly $42 a month to manage care for Medicare patients with two or more chronic conditions in its Chronic Care Management program. These patients comprise two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries. For practices with 20 eligible patients, that figure translates to over $10,000 per provider per year. Providers must use mHealth to meet some requirements of Chronic Care Management, such as offering 24-7 access to consultation, and companies are now creating technologies to help. Just last month, Qualcomm and Walgreens announced a joint venture to pair medical devices with mobile and web apps to provide remote patient monitoring and transitional care support.

And then there’s efficiency. Another study finds that “the average hospital loses $1.7 million per year due to inefficient care coordination,” according to a HealthIT Analytics article. Providers are finding mobile technology valuable for improving health information exchange and communication, areas underserved by current EHR systems. More providers are text messaging care information rather than communicating face-to-face with colleagues, resulting in more informed care teams and fewer avoidable healthcare errors. Providers are also using mobile devices to enhance real-time patient engagement rather than relying on cumbersome computers to document in the EHR. Often the result is improved patient care, shorter appointments, and more time to see more patients. And besides getting in and out of their provider’s office sooner, patients are also welcoming new efficiencies with real-time access to their medical records via smartphone, a selling point among younger generations pursuing an active role in their care. In a recent survey of Americans, millennials indicated a preference for patient portals that they can access via a smartphone or tablet.

Yet providers should plan carefully when implementing mHealth, as there are major costs for failing to set up robust infrastructures that support safe mobile use. Providers should perform security risk analysis to ensure the safety of protected health information (PHI). This includes evaluating the security of all mobile devices—tablets and smartphones—ensuring that each device stores, sends, and receives PHI securely using encryption and other methods. Providers must perform this analysis routinely to receive payments under Meaningful Use (MU) and to prevent the ever-growing number of data breaches. Data security has remained a chief concern for healthcare providers and leaders and has largely stifled the widespread adoption of mHealth. This may change as the Department of Health & Human Services plans to offer more guidance to mHealth developers and users for adhering to HIPAA rules, as it recently announced.

Providers must adopt mHealth to survive in today’s competitive marketplace. Not only will they reap the short-term benefits of higher revenues through Chronic Care Management and attracting new patients, but they will also build the secure infrastructure and tools needed for long-term success. mHealth will be critical to population health and health information exchange, two eventual destinations for the healthcare industry. Providers who adopt mHealth now will be ready for when our industry makes the complete shift toward a population-focused, value-based care model.

In my experience at The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company, effective adoption begins when leaders engage their workforce in the vision and mission of the project; when education is focused, accessible, and targeted; when performance is measured, collected, and analyzed; and when adoption is sustained amid changing technologies and process improvements. For providers to make the transition successfully healthcare leaders must find and implement technologies that patients and providers want to use. They must provide education that is convenient, focused, and practical for providers, education that spans not only how to optimize the technology but also how to use it safely and in accordance with government regulations. Healthcare leaders must also track performance in quality and efficiency, and highlight areas for improvement. And lastly, they must ensure all efforts are sustained, reinforced, and tailored to changing needs.

mHealth is poised to transform healthcare. It’s no wonder that mHealth raised $1.2 billion in venture capital last year, or more than triple what it raised in 2013. I’d venture to say that a significant share of new patients, new revenues, and new efficiencies will be earned by providers who are going “mobile.”

Xerox is a sponsor of the Breakaway Thinking series of blog posts.

Combating Mobile Health Threats: 13 Tips Everyone Should Read

Posted on June 29, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There is a common theme I’ve noticed while I’ve been researching mHealth over the past few months: a great concern for safety and security. No one wants to download an app, or have their doctor use some kind of technology, if the information could somehow be leaked. A few months ago in Utah, there was a huge security breach where Medicaid and CHIP recipient’s information (birthdays, social security numbers, addresses…you know, all that information no one wants a hacker to have) was stolen. This kind of opened my eyes to how there needs to be security measures in place to make sure things like that don’t happen. While that didn’t have to do with security within mHealth, I feel like similar things could happen with patient information being transmitted within mobile devices.

So is there anything that can be done to protect this information? Well, I think for apps, it starts with the creator making sure there is a secure network. However, apps aren’t the only mobile health devices. There’s USB devices, laptops, and tablets as well. Michelle McNickle, New Media Producer for Healthcare IT News over at mhimss.com, posted 13 tips from ID experts on how to fight mobile device threats:

  1. Consider USB Locks
  2. Try geolocation tracking software or services
  3. Brick the device if it gets stolen or lost
  4. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt
  5. Forget about “sleep” mode
  6. Recognize that employees will use personal devices
  7. Use strong safeguards to permit access to PHI through mobile devices
  8. Educate employees on the importance of safeguarding their mobile devices
  9. Implement electronic protector health information (EPHI) security
  10. Work to get ahead of the BYOD upgrade curve
  11. Have a proactive data management strategy
  12. Keep in mind transparency and end-user consent opt-in.
  13. Remember that the mobile Web and “app” landscape is not your father’s Internet

While some of this tips didn’t really pertain to me, overall, I found the list to be very helpful. Awhile back, I downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to “brick the device”, as was mentioned in step three. While the only part of the app I’ve (thankfully) had to use was the feature that sets off a very loud alarm because I couldn’t find it (we’re talking ambulance siren loud), I’m glad I would be able to wipe data if I truly did lose it and didn’t want my personal information stolen. Whether you are a consumer, employer, or a creator of apps or technology, reading through this list is important. More detailed explanations of each of the points can be found here.

Trends in Healthcare Privacy and Security

Posted on December 28, 2011 I Written By

A review by Government Health IT recently discussed the top ten trends in healthcare privacy and security.  You can find the top ten below, as well as the full article on their website.  It certainly raises a very interesting topic as we move forward into the new year.

Privacy and security are undoubtedly one of the biggest issues in the development of new technology.  In this increasingly connected world, it is essential that personal information be kept safe and secure.

I also can’t help bu think that the lack of mHealth specific guidance in one of the things keeping major breakthroughs from happening.  That being said we are starting to see approval of apps by government agencies that should create the framework for hard and fast legislation.

In the end, the most important aspect of this all is that patient privacy and security effectively protects the patient as well as the healthcare provider.

Top Ten Trends in Healthcare Privacy and Security

1. More policing, more penalties, OCR-style.

2. Increase in healthcare data breaches.

3. A wider use of mobile devices in medicine.

4. Massive-scale data breaches in healthcare.

5. Greater patient awareness.

6. Taking protected health information (PHI) to the cloud.

7. Increased use of business associates (BAs).

8. OCR starts the HIPAA audit program.

9. The use of cyberliability insurance to manage data breach risks.

10. Data breaches are costing hospitals more than ever.