3 takeaways from the HIMSS mobile survey

The new mobile survey released at last week's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in Chicago provides encouraging and exciting insight on how such technology is being embraced, as well as new and valuable knowledge regarding the big obstacles and trends taking root in the industry.

The study, which is in its fourth year, covers everything from policy making regarding mobile tech use to barriers in effective use.

Here are three interesting takeaways from the survey:

  1. Mobile data access is a top priority but one going malnourished: Nearly half, 47 percent of the 238 respondents, claim implementing a mHeath data access is top priority. But just 18 percent describe their mobile tech environment as highly mature. Lesson No. 1: Work on the environment first so that the data access element has a strong foundation.
  2. Patient-specific app building is more than just dismal; it's sad: Given Pew Research Center figures that nearly 90 percent of U.S. citizens either have access to or own a smartphone, there really is no excuse for not having a patient-specific app in market or at least in progress. Yet just 31 percent of respondents boast such a tool. Meanwhile, roughly 40 percent have no plans now, or in the future, to offer such apps.
  3. Policy making not getting respect it requires: The survey reports mobile tech policy is in place for 57 percent polled, and that another 36 percent have such policies in development. The issue here is that policy making within the healthcare IT realm isn't new and has proven critical in meeting regulatory for, for instance, ensuring patient data privacy and security. The scary thing is that there are mHealth devices in play with no policies for just under half of provider employees using such devices. That's like putting the cart before the horse. The trend here should be the opposite--policy before deployment.

"mHealth continues to evolve as a tool to drive healthcare efficiencies," David Collins, senior director of HIMSS mHealth Community, said in a statement accompanying the survey. "The proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 rule realizes this with the concept of APIs and patient generated health data, and this year's survey showed that the widespread availability of mobile technology has had a positive impact on the coordination of patient care."

Despite such optimism, however, it appears the provider industry still has a ways to go in terms of preparation and deployment of mobile tools. - Judy (@FierceHealthIT)

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