5 steps to a mobile practice

Moving from a desktop computer to an iPhone may seem like second nature to some – or like being attached to a ball and chain to others. As healthcare practices adopt and require mobile-based apps for their EMRs and other services, providers may find that they have little choice but to quit worrying and learn to love their mobile devices.

Brad Jannenga, CEO of WebPT, develops specialized software for physical therapy practices and entered the healthcare industry specifically because of a lack of good mobile based applications.

"In the medical space there's kind of a dichotomy," says Jannenga, who points out that incredibly advanced life-saving and life-sustaining technology has been developed that can "fit inside a briefcase." But "the software they're using to manage their practice" is so outdated that he likens it to the old green text on a black screen of the early command line based systems.

"Instead of trying to get your mobile phone [to talk to] circa 1982 applications," says Jannenga, why not "just upgrade" your entire practice to become mobile-based?

He suggests these 5 steps towards a mobile practice

1. Research. Jannenga makes no bones about the fact that every practice and its needs are different. "Go out and evaluate what's out there, map out back to what your needs are as a practice," he says. Does a system offer HIPAA compliance? How accessible is the data? Just buying a piece of software alone is not a magic bullet. Jannenga says that "some systems are very generic so you have to ask, will that cause more work for your staff?" The level of tech acumen present in a practice has a large bearing on what systems to look at too, says Jannenga, who notes that it is important to evaluate how tech-savvy and open to a mobile system a staff is. Will they need additional training? Is a mobile system going to be welcomed and actually used?

2. Invest. "Do laptops instead of desktops," Jannenga says. "Do tablets, do iPhones, whatever makes sense for your practice." Knowing the specifics of what each specialized practice does is key to developing a solution that will integrate and benefit the practice. Within the example of physical therapy, mobile makes sense: "It's one of the most documentation intensive sub specialties .... Every time you see a physical therapist, you're talking about two pieces of paper." He says that investing in mobile technology allows a physician the freedom to capture data and take notes wherever they are, potentially freeing them from the confines of their office. When it comes to shelling out, there are two sides to the coin: "The beauty of having a mobile workforce is that you're largely relying on cloud-based technology so all you really need to support that, as far as hardware goes, are mobile devices for staff."