How Medical Tablets are Enabling Accessible Healthcare

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Learn the Patient and Provider Perspectives

The mobile technology gave life to telehealth, bringing closer the future of accessible, connected healthcare and fully interoperable systems. As the mobile technology evolves, we will see more medical software developers account for the increasing need of an accessible, mobile solution for the medical professionals and the patients. We will see more mobile health applications gain interoperability features to communicate directly with the EHR systems. And it only makes sense for the mobile technology to bring more horsepower in a compact form factor that would accommodate the high-end professional software, and combine it with the ease of use of a mobile app.

Some concerns require preemptive planning, however. The mobile transformation is sweeping across the healthcare sector so fast providers don’t always take into account important things other than the price of a solution. The patients’ data security concerns and federal regulations, for example, are not accounted for in many solutions based on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). As a result, healthcare providers end up with a complex digital landscape that does not quite fit into their compliance strategy.

Careful planning and preemptive approach in selecting mobile health IT solutions help providers invest wisely. Let us take a look at the ways mobile health IT makes healthcare accessible, but also at the concerns that the providers need to take into account.

Healthcare Accessibility: The Organization’s Perspective

Mobile technology in healthcare is improving the productivity of adopters in many ways:

- simplified internal documentation and workflow

- improved care coordination

- improved care quality

- better accountability

- higher patient satisfaction rates, patient awareness, and involvement

The ACA is re-shaping the healthcare system to the patient-centric model. In a value-based system, financial penalties for preventable readmissions, for example, drive the move towards greater connectivity of all care processes.

The patient experience is a broad arc of patient-healthcare system encounters. From the ambulance ride, hospitalization-related transfers between departments, to diagnosis, treatment, or acute and post-acute care down to discharge, home healthcare and post-hospitalization recovery – patients deal with dozens of medical professionals.

The patient-centric model requires the minimization, and elimination, of the errors occurring at each stage of these encounters. The objective can only be accomplished through the timely – preferably live – update and transfer of the health records between the medical professionals, departments, and providers. Each stage of care must begin with a complete set of data and ensure the live data update. So, the members of the care team at the next stage get the records complete and accurate.

The patient data grows exponentially both in terms of volume and variety, and a large portion of it does not make it to the physician’s desk on time. 55%+ Americans report missing/incomplete health records during scheduled visits, and 49% admit the physician is often unaware of the existing medical conditions, allergies, and prescriptions. The statistic calls for greater accessibility of doctors to electronic patient information, and better communication between the provider and the patient.

The advent of EHR systems was supposed to fix the problem of records accuracy and completeness. The “IT paradox” is to blame. Whereas the EHR has all the features necessary to make patient records complete, it does not account for the critical factor – the ease of use for the target user. Physicians spend 2-3 hours a day after work to complete the EHR records and other “bureaucratic” documentation. That is uncompensated time after work that adds volumes to the physician burnout.

Medical tablets have the potential to solve that problem. Not your typical iPad or Android tablet, however. Only the EHR-enabled Windows medical tablets allow the medical professionals to make the live, on the go EHR records updates at each stage of care.

Consider this: at HIMSS17, the Houston Fire Department featured a telehealth solution relying on medical tablets. Ambulance teams equipped with medical tablets assess the patient’s state, and if it does not call for hospitalization, engage a teleconference with a remote physician. The physician, in turn, evaluates the patient and suggests alternatives to the ambulance ride – a taxi, home health care, or a scheduled visit to the clinic. As a result, the non-acute emergency visits and ambulance rides are averted. Less pressure on overcrowded emergency departments, faster turnaround times of the ambulance teams translate into improved productivity of the system as a whole.

Back to the on-premise workflow, medical tablets are equipped with the whole kit and caboodle of tools that make the routine processes so much easier for the worker. Scan and sign prescriptions, read data from RFID equipment, update EHR records, adjust medication dosage, consult online reference resources, generate official reports or view medical images. Medical staff can now capture, manage and transform patient data using medical tablets where they used to require desktop computers.

With medical tablets, doctors and nurses can update the patient health records in virtually any location – reducing errors, making patient records accurate, and improving the care quality. One major benefit, however, is the reduced time medical practitioners spend on “electronic paperwork” after work. It is that uncompensated time that has made EHR the burden instead of the solution it was meant to be.

Before deploying any healthcare mobility initiative, providers need to assess if the selected solution is adequate. An adequate health IT solution facilitates hardware and software compatibility, ease of use, remote management, connectivity and collaboration, networking, data security and compliance.

For example, a consumer tablet makes access to the medical software impossible other than via browser interface, which cripples functionality. This browser-enabled access must be developed separately, which is a significant investment.

Medical grade tablets allow for direct use of professional programs and afford the compatibility and connectivity a medical worker needs with Windows OS and a selection of ports that make it a truly mobile computer rather than a tablet.

A thought-through mobile strategy takes into account the end users and their requirements and aligns them with the organization’s compliance needs and the budget.

Healthcare Accessibility: The Patient Perspective

The providers seeking to minimize readmission rates are investing in patient infotainment systems. The medical tablets used by both doctors and patients, or mounted in patient rooms, are filled with educational and entertainment programs and materials that help patients increase awareness about their condition. They give patients the access to the important data – care plan, doctors names and schedules, condition description, post-hospitalization recommendations and so much more.

Infotainment systems grant patients on-demand access to communication with doctors and nurses. As a result, the patient satisfaction rate increases, and the readmission rates decrease, which has a direct impact on provider’s compensation.

Outside the confines of the healthcare facilities, telehealth is becoming popular, wiping the limitations of the geographical locations. Telehealth expands the accessibility of care for the patients, bringing doctors to remote patients virtually anywhere.

The healthcare professional is responsible for the security of the sensitive patient data stored and transmitted on the mobile devices used by the doctor for video conferences, emails, and chat. BYOD devices can not ensure the level of protection for the ePHI (electronic patient health information) due to the limitations of the mobile operating systems and the usage behavior of the very medical professional. 112 million ePHI were breached in 2015 alone. According to researchers, 90% of providers suffered at least one breach in the last two years, with the average cost amounting to $2.2 million per incident.

With the current state of cybersecurity in healthcare, providers need to take into account the data security before deploying a mobile solution. Medical tablets address the data security with advanced authentication (fingerprint scanner, CAC, Smart Card reader), encryption, sandboxing, advanced customization and remote management.

Final Words

Mobile adoption in healthcare is imminent. The mobile technology makes healthcare accessible, alleviating the workload for the doctors, and improving the care quality and satisfaction for the patients.

The providers need to increase their awareness about cost-saving compatibility and productivity capabilities of the modern medical tablets. It is possible to make healthcare accessible through mobility without breaking the bank, compromising the data security, or hampering the physicians’ productivity. Contact Cybernet today to get a risk-free demo of any of our medical tablets and see it for yourself!

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