Managing the mHealth medical practice: What are the workflow implications?

Over the past two months, FierceMobileHealthcare has reported on a slew of mobile mHealth pilot and beta programs, as well as bona fide mHealth strategies being set in place.

For instance, the University of Arizona Medical Center and a rural hospital are collaborating on a trauma telemedicine pilot and initial results are impressive: The program has let doctors perform more teletrauma consultations in five months than a preceding two-year period. And a pilot developed by University of British Columbia researchers aims to provide pregnant women living in rural locations with needed prenatal care through text messaging.

Additionally, mobile messaging and information exchanges for patients and providers are helping military personnel treatment in a program at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Military Medicine Research.

And that's just a sprinkling of what's taking place and what's to come given big tech players, such as BlackBerry, which are taking big strides toward being a mHealth vendor. BlackBerry, as we reported, is teaming up with NantHealth to build built a mobile version of NantHealth's certified clinical platform as well as a smartphone specifically for the healthcare segment.

However, what hasn't hit the headlines just yet is the story about how all these mobile tools and time spent texting, messaging and conversing in real-time video are being integrated as part of healthcare providers' workdays and overall practice management efforts. As anyone who uses a smartphone for work knows, the continuous onslaught of interaction--whether it's a text, an email, a chat note or a teleconference session--all comes in addition to regular workday responsibilities. For physicians and care providers, this means handling all this mobile communications in a day that's already full of patient appointments, colleague consultations, emergency care scenarios and the usual demands of running a medical practice.

What will this require in today's medical offices and institutions? Will something either have to give or change, with the latter something being a health practitioner's workday focus? While some tools promise greater efficiency, it's not a matter of replacing today's office workday of seeing patients in real-time appointments and spending those six or eight hours of appointment sending texts and assessing images shared with a patient.

Currently, there's not a lot of information or insight on how mobile health tools are being managed in a day that's already jam-packed with patient care. That soon could loom as big a challenge as known hurdles, such as data protection, security and improving patient care. -  Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)

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