Mobile apps are becoming more doctor-friendly

The future of healthcare revolves around mobile, and while some hospitals aren't there yet, others are experimenting with mobile apps to strengthen the lines of communication with patients. In a recent conversation with EHR Intelligence, Patrick Ryan, CEO of healthcare consultancy Press Ganey, discussed how places like the Cleveland Clinic, the Scripps Research Institute and Sharp Healthcare have created a more patient-centric approach, and with health IT innovations, it is easier than ever to have a back-and-forth with patients about their conditions.

"Every organization is concerned with hearing from patients," Ryan told the website. "With the advent of technology, the opportunity to draw deeper and very specific insights and to do it across the population you serve is really quite incredible."

Mobile apps are changing patient feedback
Doctors have begun to embrace smartphone and tablet apps more in recent years. They are leveraging these solutions to conduct hospital inventory management, have quick access to health information and even collaborate with other clinicians. However, something that has been difficult to get doctors to agree to is communicating with patients on mobile devices, but this is changing due to the increased focus on patient engagement. Many clinicians got into the profession to make a difference, according to Ryan, which is playing a role in their increased adoption of mobile health solutions.

"We introduced mobile applications last year and it's our fastest-growing end of the business," Ryan said. "The comment and feedback we get from patients through mobile applications is greater than either phone or mail, and what we see across the age and economy spectrum is that we get greater responses."

With better interaction with patients, doctors are able to improve their delivery of care. The Affordable Care Act is beginning to force clinicians to see a higher number of patients, and with mobile apps that allow for better communication with patients, it can reduce the number of return visits and scheduled appointments.

Better engagement can lead to better patient outcomes
It's no secret that people who take an active role in improving their health can put themselves in a position to experience high levels of care. This is why patient engagement has become more popular as mobile health innovations have gained traction in recent years. An article for TechTarget provided the example of how smartphone and tablet apps have transformed the management of diabetes. These solutions not only help patients write down what they eat, monitor their caloric intake, evaluate their blood glucose rules, further research their medical conditions and set up automated reminders to take their medications, but also give healthcare providers access to the latest information relevant to their health.

"Mobile devices are providing a level of telehealth that never existed before in a relatively inexpensive, manageable platform that is easy for patients and caregivers to navigate," wrote Joseph Kim for TechTarget.

With an easy-to-use interface, doctors and their patients are both able to maximize the potential of these apps. Diabetes patients can update their blood glucose levels in the app and add the data to their personal health records, giving clinicians more information they can then use to improve outcomes. These solutions don't force doctors to be accessible to patients at all hours of the day, but they do allow their patients to provide them with as much data as they want. This puts healthcare in the hands of patients more than ever before. With clinicians buying in, mobile health has a bright future.