Mobile health advocates say meaningful use is part of their plan

By Eric Wicklund
09:46 AM

Hennepin County Medical Center, a 477-bed hospital in downtown Minneapolis, is ready to display its meaningful use readiness to the world. And Chief Medical Information Officer Kevin Larson says the hospital wouldn’t be ready if it hadn’t embraced mobile health.

“We have to break through this tyranny of everyone has to come to our door to get care,” he said, pointing out that the hospital is deploying laptops with full-function electronic health records and will soon be deploying its own smartphone apps for physicians and other staff.

That Larson was linking meaningful use with mobile health shouldn’t come as a surprise, advocates say. Most of the health systems seeking to prove that their EMR systems qualify for MU incentives have some sort of mobile health program in place, be it a smartphone or laptop setup for physicians or a full-fledged eICU or teleneurology program.

Larson made his case during a panel discussion at the World Congress 3rd Annual Leadership Summit on mHealth, held last month in Cambridge, Mass. The  discussion also featured Commander Peter Park, deputy director of clinical informatics for the U.S. Navy’s Department of Medicine and Surgery, who pointed out that the federal military health network, composed of 65 hospitals, 412 medical clinics and 412 dental clinics, has enabled mobile access to its electronic health record (including on the battlefield and in distant parts of the globe).

Jackson pointed out that mobile is fast becoming the delivery mechanism for the EHR, and that mobile access will help ease the “delicate dance” between hospitals and physician groups that are looking to collaborate to meet health reform mandates.

The issue has also caught the attention of the American Telemedicine Association, the Washington, D.C.-based organization recently created a “Policy A-Team” to “recommend ATA strategy and to proactively advocate for the integration of telehealth into meaningful use policy objectives as being defined for Stage II and Stage III.”

Chaired by Robert Jarrin, senior director of government affairs for San Diego-based Qualcomm, the group will target five issues:

  • Incorporating patient-generated digital health data into the EHR (for example, through the monitoring of a chronic condition at home);
  • Including digital provider-generated data from video consults, imaging and other services in the EHR;
  • Recording a care plan for patients with high-priority health conditions;
  • Encouraging the use of online self-management tools for patients with high-priority health conditions; and
  • Incorporating other telehealth uses into structured data requirements.

During the World Congress panel discussion, Jackson pointed out that many of the objectives included in Stage I of the meaningful use guidelines can be handled by mobile services, including certified physician order entry (CPOE), drug-to-drug interaction checks, permissible prescriptions, medication list maintenance, the recording and charting of vital signs, clinical decision support, patient engagement and care coordination.

“The paradigm of primary care is going to significantly change,” added Sanjay Pingle, president of Physicians Interactive, a Marlborough, Mass.-based provider of healthcare information, medication samples and mobile decision support tools and another panelist. “In addition to physicians driving this, there’s going to be a huge amount of patients” who are going to want mobile access to both their healthcare providers and their medical records.

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