It probably wouldn’t be surprising that Pew Research found that 97% of Americans own a cell phone of some type. But what may be shocking is that until recently, the adoption of healthcare on mobile devices continued to be delayed. The majority of electronic health records (EHRs) are not mobile compatible, and especially in the behavioral health industry, slower adoption rates are hampering the industry.
Today, while companies spend billions of dollars and thousands of hours developing life-saving drugs and surgical equipment, adoption of the underlying technology remains a problem. The healthcare industry is known for its outdated, outdated programs. These legacy systems tend to create an unnecessary administrative burden, are vulnerable to security risks, and are not mobile friendly.
But being mobile compatible isn’t just about convenience – improving connectivity has a direct impact on patient care. In fact, ineffective team communication was found to be the root cause of about 66% of all medical errors. In addition, the majority of malpractice allegations are the result of interrupted physician-patient communication. These problems often occur because patient information is incorrectly recorded in electronic health records. Therefore, easy access to, reading and editing of patient records is critical to ensuring quality of care.
The persistent staff shortage is also one of the driving factors behind the increase in mobile phone adoption. Mobile apps work in tandem with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to increase patient engagement with scheduling, reminders, text, and chatbot functionality. As a result, healthcare providers are seeing fewer no-shows and more employee engagement, while saving money by not asking for 24/7 staffing.
In addition, many health care providers still use paper for questionnaires and patient intake forms. By developing mobile capabilities, all receipt paperwork can be accomplished using a tablet or remotely, significantly reducing administrative time and the potential for errors. AI and virtual assistant technology can also work in tandem with a mobile phone to screen patients and reduce the need for personal assistance.
Overcoming Adoption Barriers
For nearly a decade, the main barrier to mobile adoption was that the phone was still seen as just a communication device. While it is still important in healthcare, it has taken a change in the concept of mobile to really drive adoption. The mobile device is now a powerful tool that enables patient interaction in rural areas, allows employees to work from home, enables artificial intelligence functions, and more.
Another barrier to adoption was that the technology was not advanced enough to be worth it. Each software update must be approved by the company, and mobile devices were completely separate from servers and other central information points. With the development of mobile devices and changing perception, these barriers have been largely eliminated.
Five years ago, health care providers did not see the mobile phone as a priority or a necessary tool in improving the patient experience. The healthcare industry was not built on the idea of patient participation, training, and education. These are the values that emerged with the development of society. The pandemic changed this and removed many of the traditional hurdles the industry had faced with limited mobile phone adoption. Healthcare was delayed because industry professionals did not know how to use technology and stuck to the fact that 97% of healthcare communications were face-to-face. The pandemic shattered all of that and didn’t lose people the way everyone thought it was. It shook the industry to the core, but it also gave way to new ideas and technologies. This has been great news for those who would like to see the adoption of mobile devices in healthcare.
As in many different industries, the pandemic has forced digital transformation at an unprecedented rate. In the past couple of years, everything has been moving, and the use of apps, tablets and mobile workstations is now the norm.
Ultimately, for mobile to be successful, companies must view it as a way to improve – not replace – traditional desktop functionality – and healthcare in general must continue to embrace patient engagement as a core value. Mobile adoption has come a long way in the past couple of years, but it still has a surprisingly long way to go by any modern standard. The future of healthcare is mobile, and for the industry, the possibilities are endless.
Khalid Al-Maskari He is CEO and Founder of Health Information Management Systems (HiMS)