HIMSS10: Fundamental, social changes needed to integrate mobile apps into healthcare

While mobile applications are rapidly multiplying in the field of healthcare, Shriner's Hospitals for Children CMIO Dr. William Bria believes that full integration of wireless applications won't be possible without a social and fundamental change in American healthcare. 

"Mobile computing can't just be aligned with technology," Bria said Monday at the HIMSS10 conference in Atlanta. "Change needs to be maintained; patients are sick of the runaround." 

Ultimately, Bria thinks, several factors will go into changing the culture of healthcare. The willingness of both old and new generations taking information access into their own hands is a big step, and one that goes hand-in-hand with the need for more enabling technology. For example, Bria told the story of a doctor who suffered a severe coffee burn on his hand, but needed to catch a flight. Rather than miss the flight or delay treatment, the doctor boarded his flight, took a picture of his hand with his phone, sent it to another doctor, and received feedback regarding treatment within just a few hours. 

"We're [doctors are] doing for ourselves now what tomorrow we really should be talking about for our patients," Bria said. He thinks that eventually, more and more patients will be able to do the same with the help of tools like VisualDX Mobile, a mobile app that helps patients to understand and doctors to diagnose dermatologic conditions. To that end, he wonders about the possibility of escalated care becoming decentralized.

"Access to healthcare is one of the strongest elements catalyzing" such a change, he said. He added that interoperability--with 4 billion people now using cell phones and broadband 3G and 4G networks--has also aided in the "amazing adaptability of us."