BYOD on the Q&A agenda at HIC2012
Governments and healthcare CIOs can no longer ignore the boom in mobile technologies and must learn to harness the power of mobility to ensure healthcare is more efficient and more affordable in the future, according to IT advisor Stephen Alexander.
Mr Alexander, who will moderate an expert panel Q&A session on the topic of bring your own device (BYOD) and the impact of consumer and mobile technology on healthcare at the Health Informatics Conference (HIC2012) in Sydney tomorrow, believes we have reached a “tipping point” in which the current model of healthcare is no longer affordable.
Mobile devices will be one of the few ways in which healthcare can become more efficient and more affordable, and healthcare CIOs and the wider sector are ignoring them at their peril, he said.
Mr Alexander recently interviewed a number of regional healthcare CIOs as part of a research project for the Australian Centre for Advanced Computing & Communications (ac3), and found that what most kept them up at night was the proliferation of mobile devices, both from consumers and practitioners.
“All of them said that the use of apps in the wards was already causing a major problem,” he said. “They said that their first reaction was what people did in 1988 when the first Compaq computer came out and the IT guys said 'no, we can't give them out to salespeople because why would I have idiots connected up to my systems?' This is being repeated today.”
Mr Alexander said some of the CIOs had attempted to control the use of mobile technology by using secure private networks to manage the situation better. “But the biggest problem they have is that clinicians are already putting data into the apps, which they have no idea about, and the physicians are now saying, right, I want to be able to push this data back into Cerner or iSOFT (electronic medical records) and that's when the freak-outs occur.
“It is a major problem and that is happening in terms of the state level, in terms of hospital staff, and in the community where people are away from their desktop.”
Mr Alexander has devised a survey on his website that he has invited the members of the expert panel to complete in advance of the session, hoping to reach a consensus of opinion that can be used to help inform policymakers about the use of mobile technologies in healthcare.
Deliberately controversial, the survey asks the panel to consider whether a tipping point has been reached and whether healthcare is now no longer affordable.
“There are some views out there that we can't afford to replace the systems that don't work in health today,” he said. “And if you can't afford to replace them, then can the adoption of mobility solve some of those problems? For policymakers who aren't IT experts – and being one might not necessarily assist them anyway – could they grapple with this new phenomenon and feel confident to leverage off what is happening around the world?”
One of the questions is "whether the governance framework of the PCEHR, along with the ability to integrate mobility apps via the consent of the health consumer, will drive change and unlock value in the broader community care coordination".
Mr Alexander personally believes that making the PCEHR personally controlled was a very clever move, despite the reluctance of healthcare providers in particular to allow patients access to medical records without a doctor present. He points to leaders in healthcare innovation in the US such as Kaiser Permanente and the US Department of Veterans' Affairs to show that patient control is nothing to be scared of.
“If you want to control stuff, then you have to be responsible for it,” he said. “Having it personally controlled by the consumer is the only way forward and Kaiser know that. What they want to do is share responsibility. What these apps are going to do for the clinician is to make them highly effective.
“Kaiser were already ahead of that – and the Department of Veterans Affairs – all of those have early adopters of technology which glues things together. They are now using very sophisticated real-time analytics and Kaiser will get to you before your heart attack now. And they do it because it is cheaper.
“Some of the figures I have seen recently include you could gain 25 per cent efficiency in a general practice if you adopt a mobility-based approach that is truly integrated. Consumers who use mobility want to make it smarter – smarter, faster and more intelligent – and that's what we mean by innovation.”
The panel of experts includes US guests Matthew Holt, co-chair of Health 2.0, Iltifat Husain, founder and editor-in-chief of iMedicalApps, and Rajiv Mehta, co-organiser of the Quantified Self movement. Australian experts include David Roffe, CIO of St Vincent's & Mater Health Sydney – where a mobile app allowing access to the hospital's electronic medical record has recently been launched by vendor Emerging Systems – and Deborah Kralik, head of research, quality and innovation at WA's Silver Chain Nursing Association, which has pioneered the use of mobile apps for its community nurses.
Posted in Australian eHealth