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Connected Healthcare: How Mobility Drives Better Care and a Healthier Society

As advancements in mobility continue to accelerate across all industries, one area that appears poised for some of the deepest transformation is healthcare.

Already, we are seeing how mobility adoption in hospitals — along with new personal health-monitoring devices — is enabling better patient care and a healthier society. And all of these breakthroughs dovetail into the revolution that we call the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the explosion in connectivity among people, process, data, and things that is transforming our world.

A great example is Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Sergipe, which is utilizing telehealth technology to provide patients with specialty healthcare. In the United States, nearly 70 percent of surveyed healthcare leaders say that clinicians at their organizations use mobile technology to view patient data, according to a new survey from HIMSS Analytics.

It’s also estimated that more than 17 million wearable bands will ship this year, putting new health-monitoring tools directly in the hands — or on the wrists — of patients. And with the deployment of strong wireless networks, such as the one used by Miami Children’s Hospital, hospitals are supporting a holistic mobile-enabled patient-care experience that is providing strides in electronic health records. Another intriguing breakthough involves devices such as the Scanadu Scout, which makes the handheld medical “tricorder” of Star Trek fame a consumer reality. Such advances are helping doctors, nurses, and patients reduce errors in miscommunication, while cutting costs.

Cisco_HealthcareMobility_Joseph Bradley

It isn’t about just becoming more mobilized; it’s about improving patient care and individual well-being. As Addison McGuffin, vice president of business technology innovation at Health Care Service Corporation, said, “Some of the things we’re looking at is a trend toward technology that is helping patients toward health performance and improvement on a daily basis.”

These examples show how mobility is reshaping the healthcare industry. Yet, according to a recent Forbes article, many hospital administrators perceive a “double-edged sword” when balancing the need to invest in technology with regulatory constraints. This topic also drove conversation at the recent HIMSS conference. At Kaiser Permanente’s booth, they asked the question: “Is Health IT Really Worth It?” With advancements in mobility shaping IT strategy and investments, I’d take Kaiser’s question a step further by asking, “Is Mobility in Healthcare Really Worth It?”

I believe the answer to that question is a resounding “Yes!” And here are a few key points to consider:

  • Patients want more mobility. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute study, 41 percent of patients would prefer more of their care delivered to their mobile devices.
  • Applications for wearables extend beyond basic health monitoring. To illustrate the usefulness of mobile-enabled wearable technologies in documenting important medical procedures and educating future physicians, Dr. Rafael Grossman of the Eastern Maine Medical Center recently performed the first live surgery using Google Glass.
  • Access to electronic health records is putting patients in charge of their own health. Kaiser Permanente reports that diabetes patients visited emergency rooms 29 fewer times per 1,000 patients after access to their electronic health records was implemented. This trend will continue as security and privacy issues are better addressed.

These points illustrate a shift in patient-care technologies, but also reveal new business models and educational opportunities for healthcare providers. And this is just the beginning. As the IoE revolution continues to accelerate, I believe that healthcare will transform in ways so profound that we are only beginning to imagine where it will all lead.

To learn more about how mobility and connectivity are transforming the healthcare industry, check out the latest edition of Mobilize Magazine.

In this blog, I spoke mostly to overall patient care and wearables as part of a larger landscape. But for a deeper look at wearables and how they are affecting the healthcare industry, see my previous post, An Eye to the Future of Mobility: Wearables & Healthcare.

Join the conversation. Follow @Cisco_Mobility on Twitter, #FutureOfMobility.

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