HIMSS study finds spike in health orgs with mobile policy in place

By Jeff Rowe
08:22 AM

New mHealth technology is continuing to spread across the healthcare sector, and it’s going to change dramatically the way healthcare services are delivered in the future.

That was the core takeaway from an early session at the 2012 mHealth Summit that unpacked the findings of the HIMSS 2012 Mobile Technology Survey. Co-sponsored by HIMSS and Qualcomm Life, the survey collected responses from 180 C-Suite level healthcare executives through October and November.

According to Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics, and Anthony Shimkin, senior director of marketing for Qualcomm Life, the survey’s primary goals were to gauge how mHealth technology use has changed since a similar study was conducted in 2011, as well as how federal regulations have impacted the development of mobile health policies at healthcare organizations.

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In broad terms, the most dramatic change over the past year has been the jump in the number of organizations that have mobile health policies in place. In 2011, only 38 percent of respondents said their organizations had developed such policies, but this year two-thirds of respondents had policies in place.

As for the two-thirds of respondents who predicted the sweeping impact of mHealth technology moving forward, the two primary areas for which that impact was projected were pharmacy management – in particular medication adherence – and the continuum of care.

On the latter point, Shimkin pointed to surveys indicating that 10 percent of the population now receives care via ACOs of one type or another, and these arrangements rely to a significant extent on the effective use of mobile technology. 

“The key lesson,” he said, “is that these technologies are beginning to take hold” and are clearly effecting change.

In addition to the broad view, the survey also looked at the specific types of technology for which policies are being developed. For example, 95 percent of respondents said they have policies in place for laptop use, 79 percent for smartphone use and 57 percent for the use of tablets designed for healthcare.

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Despite the clear enthusiasm for mHealth technology on the part of both healthcare executives and providers, one area still lagging, the survey found, concerned the use of such technologies by patients. For example, only 36 percent of respondents said their patients were plugged into mHealth technology.

On the other hand, 82 percent of those surveyed pointed to improved access to personal health information as a top benefit to mHealth technology, while 76 percent also noted similar benefits for providers who want to access reference information.

The full survey is available on the mHIMSS website at www.mhimss.org.