Mobile Healthcare: Simplifying Meaningful Use Requirements

As in any endeavor, developing a simple strategy to combat complex issues will bring faster results. Take meaningful use, as specified under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for example. Conceptually, it's intended, among other things, to improve patient's access to their personal clinical data in hopes that by providing relevant information in an easy-to-access, understandable format will make patients more knowledgeable, more responsible and more engaged in their own healthcare. Meaningful use adherence may not be as simple as it sounds however. For one, it's not a strategic initiative; it is a government requirement, at least for providers that desire to protect reimbursement levels. Some of the more complicated meaningful use components include:

  1. Requiring clinicians to capture more electronic health data.
  2. Requiring them to 'do more' with this data.
  3. Increasing the emphasis on patient engagement (which will involve patient reminders, patient preferences for communication channel, online secure patient-physician messaging, timely electronic access to clinical data, bidirectional electronic self-management tools, and the list goes on).

Don't be fooled. Simply achieving meaningful use will not differentiate your healthcare organization. However, with careful planning and timely implementation, you can deliver on the meaningful use requirements in a way that is truly meaningful to patients and physicians.

mHealth and meaningful use

One simple step any healthcare organization can take to quantifiably improve meaningful use is to 'go mobile.' Mobile healthcare or mHealth applications represent an important toolset available to both physicians and hospitals alike as they strive to comply with meaningful use requirements. This toolset is especially useful in the hospital setting where physicians' compliance is critical to the hospital's ability to earn ARRA funds. But other stakeholders benefit as well – smartphone carrying, proactive patients, who are not concerned with meaningful use but are concerned with gaining access to and control over their own critical healthcare information, whenever and however they prefer. It is easy to see how these requirements can tie in to the mHealth ecosystem. For example:

  • Patients may prefer to be sent reminders via text message.
  • Patients may wish to communicate with their doctor via a secure mobile messaging app.
  • Patients may also want to be able to access their clinical data and educational resources -- anytime, anywhere.

Mobile strategy - More than an app

Mobile is growing increasingly more important as a communication medium to patients today. Do you have a mobile strategy? Do you offer smartphone specific mobile web design access to maps, driving directions, phone numbers, office directories and your patient portal?  If the answer is no, your organization is falling behind on mobile strategy and you may be missing an opportunity to meet a critical goal of meaningful use – anywhere, anytime access to health information.

Steve Bazinet is president of Creative Mobile, LLC, a mobile communications company that develops mobile applications solutions aimed at engaging patients and enhancing health outcomes, is focused on simplifying the way critical data is managed by providing patient level communications that breaks down the barriers of engagement and adherence by providing patients and their healthcare providers with high-value, high-impact, actionable information.

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