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Does Your Medical Practice Need a Mobile Strategy?

February 9, 2016

Mobile_strategy_5.jpgIf you don’t have a documented mobile strategy in your medical practice, you’re not alone. But consider these statistics:

  • Nearly 70 percent of all U.S. adults own a smartphone. 
  • Nearly 87 percent of Americans earning $75,000 per year or more use a smartphone daily.
  • Nearly 90 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds are regular smartphone users. 
  • Over 75 percent of health care providers use a mobile device for work. 

Whether you’re prepared for it or not, mobile technology is changing both the way consumers access health care—and providers deliver it. Here’s what you need to know to keep up. 

Patients Expect Mobile Access

In 2015, mobile Internet use exceeded desktop use for the first time, and mobile search surpassed desktop search, according to Google. Consumers are increasingly using their mobile device to access information, consume content, and even complete transactions such as booking travel and purchasing merchandise. In addition, a recent survey found that 66 percent of Americans would use mobile apps to manage their health care issues. 

Today’s mobile-savvy consumers have grown to expect the convenience of mobile technology. After surveying patients, most practices discover they would like to use their smartphones to do some or all of the following activities:

  • schedule appointments
  • pay their bill
  • view lab results
  • communicate via text message
  • get directions to your office
  • participate in telehealth visits
  • access information about prescriptions and/or health conditions

If you already promote a patient portal in your practice, you know the advantages in terms of reduced call volumes and lower operating costs. However, if your portal isn’t mobile friendly, you may be missing out in terms of enrollment and participation, especially if your patient population is heavily mobile dependent. 

mHealth Users Are Getting More from Their EHRs

It’s not just patients who are demanding mobile access; a recent study showed that 58 percent of providers with mobile EHR access were “very satisfied” with their systems, compared to just 28 percent of non-mobile EHR users. In addition, only 39 percent of mHealth users were “challenged” by their EHRs, while nearly 60 percent of desktop EHR users encountered regular difficulties. More importantly, perhaps, 73 percent said that their mobile EHR increased productivity, while just 42 percent felt the same about their non-mobile EHR. 

But providers are using their mobile devices for more than just EHR access; many report using their devices to:

  • access diagnostic tools
  • consult clinical research apps
  • view drug and coding references
  • educate patients
  • use productivity and organizational tools
  • read professional content
  • consume CME

In fact, according to a study by MedData Group last year, nearly 40 percent of physician and health administrator respondents indicated that ensuring a mobile-friendly environment for clinicians was a top technology priority for 2015. 

Mobile Information Privacy and Security

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has a five-point action list that ensures HIPAA compliance and safeguards health information for practices ready to implement mobile technology. These include deciding which mobile devices you will allow on your network, conducting a risk analysis, implementing security and privacy safeguards, and documenting policies and procedures. 

While these are good starting points, there are other mobile best practices you may want to consider. 

  1. Implement user authentication controls, including passcodes and/or biometrics. 
  2. Utilize remote lock and wipe capabilities for lost or stolen mobile devices. 
  3. Employ encryption on any data that is transmitted by or stored on mobile devices. 
  4. Develop a list of approved apps for BYOD environments to minimize risks. 

Mobile strategies vary from practice to practice; a mobile patient portal may not be a priority for a geriatrics practice, for example, but a mobile EHR might be. Contact M-Scribe today to learn more about our EHR and coding and documentation services. 

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