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Is This The Doc For Me? MHealth Can Help.

Finding a new doctor can be a stressful and difficult situation for people, yet it is a normal part of adult life. A primary care physician can refer their patient to a specialist or other doctor, eliminating the difficult locating process; in some situations no referral is available, which leaves patients in a tight spot. This is especially true when moving to a new city, where the patient knows no doctors and has no peers to give doctor recommendations. Often, patients will wait until they grow close enough with locals to get a good recommendation, but some patients cannot afford to wait that long. This is an issue that seems perfect for a mobile health solution. With mobility, patients are able to connect with locals immediately and see recommendations and information about doctors.

There are websites that provide information about doctors, but there is not one that is recognized as a legitimate source of information, and none of them have app capabilities. There is an app, Yelp, which provides this service for businesses, offering information about the business and reviews from patrons. Yelp also has a section for doctor reviews, but the wide scoping nature of the app means that not every doctor and practice in the area is reviewed, and most do not have extensive commentary. The mobile healthcare world is ripe for a new app that provides peer evaluation and consensus on every doctor, as well as clear insurance information.

Another way mobile healthcare can help with the new patient process is through the use of Electronic Health Records. When transferring to a new doctor, it can be difficult for a patient to get their information to the new physician, and often there are questions on the primary paperwork about immunizations and other records that the patient does not have in their memory. If patients had access to their own records transferring doctors would be able to go more smoothly. A visit to a new doctor, or any doctor, should not be a stressful experience but a healing and informative one, and mobile healthcare can help make this happen. By helping patients get connected with the right doctor, and then helping the doctor transfer process go simply, mHealth is the answer to the difficult side of doctor/patient connectivity.

 
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mHealth and Community Health Centers

Healthcare is a field that can be unavoidably expensive. The latest developments and equipment are often only available to people with higher incomes, simply because of the money required to develop and maintain. Healthcare is also, however, a field that everyone needs at some point in their lives. For people with lower incomes, healthcare can be a major issue, and ignoring it for money’s sake can be life threatening. Solutions to this dilemma are one avenue that mHealth investigates.With the presence of mobile healthcare, the affordability and reach of healthcare are greatly extended. Apps can be produced at a much lower cost than the technological systems of the past, and distributed more widely. Mobile healthcare technology can connect pro-bono doctors with a wider range of patients

Mobihealthnews.com recently released a report about a new Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative. The foundation is investigating and collecting information from low-income communities, discovering where their healthcare experience is lacking and how health data can be implemented. By assessing the connectivity and needs of these communities, RWJF hopes to be able to provide them with the necessary tools to get connected to the mobile healthcare world. RWJF is focusing on data collection, and how health data can help these communities.

With mobile healthcare, we have the unique opportunity to meet people where they are. Instead of the patient having to find a way to navigate to the doctor’s office, the healthcare can come to the patient. Often, there is a stigma surrounding healthcare, but with mobility the stigma can be bypassed and eventually overcome. An important feature in these communities is community health centers. Community health centers are the bridge between mobile healthcare and low-income communities. It is important for these health centers to invest in mobile healthcare and extend their reach in the community. These centers serve as a healthcare system for the uninsured, and their services are invaluable. With the added power of mHealth, community health centers can more fully connect with their patients, maintain care, and offer aid.

The uninsured and/or low-income community is no less in need of healthcare than any other community, yet they often are unable to access it. With the power of mobile healthcare, assistance and connectivity can be offered to all. Studies such as the one currently run by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are crucial for the advancement of mHealth, which can radically change the quality of peoples’ lives.

 
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Prescriptions, Pharmacies, and [web]Pages.

Prescription drugs are a now standard part of the adult american’s life. It is not unusual to have a cabinet filled with a plethora of medications, and the daily process of managing pills can be an immense hassle. In extreme cases, medication confusion can cause serious emergencies and have potentially fatal consequences. Missing a dose of prescription medication can be just as dangerous as taking the wrong medication, so keeping on top of refills is essential. Sometimes it is difficult to judge how early to call it in and easy to forget to pick it up or call it in in the first place. Some people have trouble getting to the pharmacy to pick up their prescription, due to transportation or mobility issues. Certainly there must be a way for the digital solutions so prevalent in this culture to address this needy field.

One company is coming up with such a solution. PillPack is a new website that operates as an “online pharmacy”, a mail order prescription company. PillPack is not simply a mail order drug service, they are a high functioning pharmacy and they provide organization as well as convenience. They deliver individually wrapped packages containing each day’s pills, labeled clearly and comprehensively. They are also proactive about following up; they pursue refills automatically, but also send the patient a text reminding them of the upcoming refill and delivery information. They charge no shipping or fees, the only cost is the standard co-pay. The website is designed simplistically, articulating the attractive qualities of PillPack; they are simple, organized, and modern.

Mail-order prescriptions are attractive for the simple sake of convenience, but PillPack is taking the idea and moving forward. With its labeled, separated packets, PillPack adds an element of safety which comes through organization. For anyone who has trouble with pill separators, or with remembering when they are supposed to take their pills, PillPack’s separation could be a lifesaver. The fact that they don’t charge any shipping or fees adds another element; PillPack is reaching out to those who can’t make it to a pharmacy because they cannot afford the transportation or physically are unable. Services like PillPack offer independence to these individuals, giving them the opportunity to take care of their health from their home.

Certainly PillPack the service is not perfect, as they have yet to integrate mobile apps into their system. This has to be the next step; with pill reminder apps already being an entity, PillPack could implement major mobile integration, giving their users a quick and constant level of control and information. But the service is moving forward, and we will certainly see a mobile aspect soon, as well as other companies offering similar services. After all, PillPack provides an often confusing field and situation with clarity and order.

 
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Apple Health and the mHealth Field

iOS8 was released this past Wednesday, September 17, and its newly integrated apps are being thoroughly explored. One of these apps is the “Health” app, an official app integrated into the software. The app comes automatically installed on any iPhone with iOS8, and it cannot be deleted. With Health, Apple is putting a face on their much discussed HealthKit, and providing an interface for the customer. The app collects data from other health and fitness apps, and provides a reference location for all of a user’s health data. With a sleek interface, the app is an attractive health dossier for the user. There are neatly organized sections for  variety of data types, including blood pressure records, nutrition records, and a section for results such as blood glucose and inhaler usage. With HealthKit for developers, all other health and fitness apps for iOS8 are able to easily input their data into Health, streamlining the process for any iPhone user wanting to monitor an aspect of their physical state. The health app is good for day to day monitoring, for example someone on a diet or someone keeping track of their various heart rates. The app is also, however, an excellent tool for doctor’s visits and those with chronic illness. It provides the ability to easily access information and share or reference it.

Apple HealthKit and the Health app show the promise of mobile healthcare. The launch of the integrated Health app is a huge step of legitimacy for the mobile healthcare field, and by pioneering this integration Apple is engineering significant growth for mHealth. Now every iPhone user is faced with mobile healthcare, raising concerns and questions which in turn offer possibility for innovation and refinement in mHealth. Apple has brought mobile healthcare to the forefront of the general public, and those who were ignorant before now have a rudimentary knowledge that such a field even exists. Whether or not HealthKit and the Health app succeed, the fact is that their release should be celebrated, simply for the reason that they are paving the way for important healthcare modernization.

 
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App Provides New Level of Mobile Health Connectivity

The world of mobile healthcare is coming to the average joe, with a new app from the American Red Cross offering connectivity to any smartphone owner. Often thus far mHealth has been of the most importance to those suffering from chronic diseases or a frequent need for doctor’s consultation, but with this new app the Red Cross is connecting every smartphone owner with donation and first aid. The Red Cross has had first aid apps for a few years, and they have proven very popular, offering information and solutions in the event of a disaster. In 2012, before Hurricane Sandy, over 400,000 apps were downloaded. Now, the Red Cross is taking the next step with their Blood App. The app connects donors with information about nearby blood drives, giving them the opportunity to see where their blood goes and to earn rewards. The app also lets people schedule a donation appointment that will connect with their calendar. The app is a great step towards connecting charities and smartphone users. With this app, we are beginning to see the benefits of mobile healthcare beyond just Telehealth and vital sign measurement. Mobile Healthcare as a vehicle for connectivity is excellent, and this is what the Red Cross is achieving.

 
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Nursing Informatics and IT Integration

Nursing Informatics is the specific field in which the practical and technological aspects of nursing are studied and managed. In the past thirty years it has grown and blossomed, and is now an significant and essential profession. Within the realm of nursing informatics, technology has grown rapidly in importance. Chief Nursing Informatics Officers now spend much of their time focusing on the integration of mobile technology into their processes. The CNIO often provides a crucial role as a bridge between the world of nursing and the world of IT, two fields that otherwise might barely intersect. As an expert in nursing practices and IT systems, a CNIO also brings a fresh perspective to the medical world.

The nurses job within the hospital system is varied and active, with an enormous amount of little activities occupying every spare moment. Nursing is a field that is ripe for technological and mobile integration. With the growth of the CNIO position and profession, nursing now has a bright future in relationship with IT. A main purpose of mobile healthcare is to provide the next level of efficiency without sacrificing any form of quality, and this is something that nurses need. Efficiency is a primary goal of a nurse, and a primary goal of technological advancement. When the two meet and work on their same goal, the advancements could be revolutionary.

A specific example of an advancement is the area of paperwork that nurses have to deal with. Nearly half of a nurses shift is spent filling out, organizing, or in some way dealing with paperwork. This is necessary for keeping precise and structured health records, appointment records, or prescription records among many other things. With the move toward the Electronic Health Records, nurses are gaining a bit of time by being able to fill things out on the computer and have immediate access to those same records. This can be taken a step further; technology is being released now that can automatically record vital signs of a patient into an electronic record, saving the nurse the time of entering it. As more and more paperwork becomes automatic and streamlined, nurses will have more time to spend with each patient individually, or time to see more patients, or time to do more background work. When technology and nurses meet, benefits abound for patients, nurses, and doctors. What is happening now in the integration of nursing and mobile healthcare, especially with the help of CNIO’s is exciting, but it is just the beginning!

 
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A Promising New mHealth Development; Emergency Alert Apps

Recent positive reports have surfaced about a new app in California called PulsePoint. The app picks up alerts of cardiac arrest in nearby public areas and notifies the user, who should be CPR certified. This offers an opportunity for more immediate assistance to be offered to the person suffering from cardiac arrest, which can improve their chances of survival immensely. The app has already been downloaded copiously in San Jose and Los Angeles. Especially in big cities such as these, EMS response time can often stretch to many minutes, and in a situation such as cardiac arrest, every second counts. The possibilities of apps such as PulsePoint are exciting and encouraging. Often, the search for “instant gratification” is hailed as a serious issue in todays culture. The pursuit of faster, simpler electronics and operating systems is often a point of contention. But when it comes to emergency situations, certainly instant gratification is the optimal goal. This is where the focus and aims of smartphones and their developers could make a huge impact, a field in which the search for streamlined services becomes a matter of life and death. With the advent of apps such as PulsePoint, an exciting new innovative realm is opened. The mobile healthcare field is already booming, but expanding this ingenuity to emergency services is a fantastic foray. A pursuit often portrayed negatively, instant gratification, can be redeemed and used to save lives. The speed and connectivity of smartphones is the perfect medium through which to get certified help to emergency situations.

Another interesting aspect of PulsePoint is the connectivity that it brings between the medical field and the community. Often the medical field can seem detached, and emergency services can seem regrettably overworked. With an app such as PulsePoint, opportunity is give for community members to assist, even rescue one another. Suddenly, with an app such as PulsePoint, the responsibility and opportunity of an emergency technician is placed on every certified citizen who is willing to download the app. PulsePoint also informs the user of the nearest AED, once again offering connections. Whereas previously someone could die within minutes of a life-saving AED, were an app such as PulsePoint to become a standard usage a larger number of citizens would have access to crucial information such as AED locations. The use of alert apps such as PulsePoint could involve the community, providing an encouraging look at a community that looks out for each other. These kind of apps provide a citizen-to-citizen connection that often emergency services cannot provide. An app like PulsePoint is exactly what those searching for healthcare and community connection need.

PulsePoint is an excellent example and starting point for future emergency alert apps. Provided for already certified citizens, emergency alert apps can greatly improve critical response times and supply an integral connection point between healthcare and the community; both of these should be main goals of any mHealth developer or researcher.

 
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Mobile Healthcare and Healthy Living

Published on July 28th, 2014 by in Uncategorized

The focus on healthy living is growing rapidly; diet changes and increased work out regimes  are the constant topic of conversation and study. Yet this topic is separated from any discussion of hospitals, medicine, and doctors. Organic, home remedies are becoming the new trend, with avoidance of pharmaceuticals following. This is neither a bad or a good thing, but it is something that hospitals need to realize and address. America currently has a medical care system – not a health care system.  We focus on treating illness after it has occurred – rather than preventing it before it shows up.  While Americans are living longer, about half of the population is limited by preventable chronic illnesses and simple restrictions stemming from unhealthy habits. What people are turning to is any kind of preventative measure they can find, which currently is well provided by organic remedies and lifestyle changes. It is good that people realize that often habits and routines need to be changed for a healthier life, but there can also be a way for the doctors to help, rather than be a costly hinderance, and not be seen as simply pill pushers.

Trillions of dollars are spent by Americans every year on medical treatment, but studies show that every $1 spent per year on preventative health care programs results in a savings of more than $5 to the U.S. economy.  Clearly using preventative health care services can save lives at no additional cost to the taxpayer. In fact, it is cheaper. Preventative measures certainly save lives; over 40 percent of American deaths occur every year because of alcohol misuse, tobacco misuse, dietary, and sedentary issues. Preventative measures were necessary in those cases; lifestyle changes needed to be enacted that changed the habits of misuse. As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The issue with preventative measure and lifestyle changes is that they take a significant level of discipline and vigilance. With the busy lives led by today’s citizens, often the time commitment of a habit change is impossible. It is difficult to keep track of progress and the new habit plan. This is where mHealth comes in. There are apps that provide the extra help needed to maintain a lifestyle change. Apps can remind, keep records, and encourage. Additionally, apps can provide information about prevention techniques, and provide connection to doctors and specialists in the case of more serious occurrences. The mHealth world is where the doctors and hospitals can meet the patients and stand on common ground. As opposed to simply telling a patient to lose weight, or change other habits, physicians can “prescribe” an app, giving the patient a simple, cheap way to take a step in the healthy direction. Mobile apps are the beginning of a wide preventative medicine field, one to which hospitals and doctors should quickly connect.

 
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Mobile Healthcare: the Answer to the Workforce Shortage?

Published on July 21st, 2014 by in Uncategorized

By now, mid-second decade of the twenty-first century, we as a people are used to technology. We are comfortable in the digital age, confident in the power of the technology around us and adept at its usage. Popular culture has been efficiently digital for a while, now the workforce is finishing up its digital transition. The innovation of this age is all technological, advances come at lightning speed. This can be seen distinctly in the healthcare field. An initially slow adopter of technology, the mobile healthcare industry has finally grown to a blooming field. Apps and systems that improve quality of care, efficiency, and connectivity are common in the healthcare world now, yet the healthcare industry is still plagued with a personnel shortage. In an exponentially growing world it seems strange to have a field that is so lacking in workers: mobility can help the healthcare field, and mobile healthcare can revitalize the entire world of health professionals. There are two ways in which mHealth can solve the shortage issues.

First of all, taking healthcare into the digital realm will attract more workers. The population is now used to ‘being mobile’; they are used to having immediate and consistent access to the things they need. Everything in their personal life is handled on their smartphone, it is frustrating to come in to work and have to regress technologically. Taking steps toward mHealth will give healthcare systems an attractive quality, showing prospective employees that the healthcare system is current and innovative. Having a strong mHealth presence will assure employees that the hospital system is thriving, rather than decaying. Employees want any sign of job security, and a thriving mobile healthcare connection will provide a small sign of a healthy business that will provide for its employees. The first issue with healthcare systems today is that the requirements and disconnectedness of old hospital systems have no attractors for potential employees. With mobile healthcare, the field becomes ripe for futuristic innovation and a workforce more understandable to the current digital generation.

The second assistance that an mHealth connection provides is enabling the already employed workers to do more. With mobile apps, healthcare professionals can be much more efficient. There are apps that provide consolidated information, negating the need for time-consuming research and collation. There are apps that provide patient-doctor connections and updates, often alleviating the need for a full appointment. There are also apps that collect data and monitor vitals in discharged patients, apps that provide important prescription drug information, and apps that connect specialists with nurses and general practitioners. All of these apps can be used to maximize on employee time and efficiency, and this is just a handful sampling of the hundreds of thousands of mHealth apps.

By making hospital systems more attractive to prospective employees and maximizing efficiency of current employees, mobile healthcare seems like a step that all healthcare systems should take. The healthcare workforce shortage is a major issue, but its solution is on the rise. A generation that has only known a digital world is rising to working age; mobile healthcare is the language and answer for this new group of young healthcare professionals.

 
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The Necessity of Electronic Health Records for mHealth

Published on July 14th, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Electronic Health Records are a facet of healthcare that are finally being widely accepted. A mid-2013 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted that over half of the doctors in the U.S. were using EHRs. This is good news for the mobile healthcare realm, as mobile healthcare technology often makes use of EHRs. There are still health professionals, however, who have not adopted EHR use, and EHRs can also leave patients with concerning questions. What is it that makes an Electronic Health Record a necessity in the healthcare world today? First of all, health records are the backbone of effective healthcare. Without patient history, health professionals are unable to have a framework within which to work diagnostically. Past treatments are also missing, which prevents physicians from knowing exactly what works with the patient’s system. Without health records, physicians are flying completely blind. Usually a patients primary care physician will keep their chart, with all the records of their visits and treatments with that PCP. If the patient has to visit a specialist or a different physician, they are then responsible for providing their new doctor with their entire medical history. For some patients, this is brief and simple, but for many patients that history involves multiple treatments and/or diagnoses that they might not fully understand. Patients rarely have full access to their health records, though often this is simply because they do not request access.

With EHRs, all of this messy record keeping is cleaned up, and secure access is available simplistically to all of the patient’s physicians, and often to the patient themselves. With Electronic Health Records, an up-to-date account of all the patient’s diagnoses and treatments, a fact which can often prevent repetition of an allergic reaction to a certain treatment, or provide a quicker and more accurate diagnosis based on past clues. EHRs provide unity and collaboration in the medical world, which in turn leads to a greater volume of discovery and innovation. EHRs also provide a more secure backup for the medical history of patients, as they can be saved in multiple places, including cloud-based servers, instead of being just one copy in a physical location, subject to erosion of time and natural disaster. The main concern from patients at this point with EHRs is their security capabilities. HealthIT.gov has a whole section of their website dedicated to EHR security regulations and resources. Security of patient history is taken very seriously, and patients have nothing to fear with regards to EHR safety. With EHRs being so widely used, EHR security technology has kept up, and is efficient and powerful.

EHRs are important to the advancement of mobile healthcare. As EHRs are growing, so mobile healthcare apps have more abilities and resources to draw from. Connectivity to the patient’s health record is a common facet and requirement for mHealth apps. Those physicians and practices that have not yet adopted EHR use should reconsider, and patients whose doctors are turning to EHRs should feel confident and excited at the upgrade in care capabilities. Technology of the future is among us, and healthcare especially should not linger in the past.

 
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