3 mobile health trends at HIMSS 2013

By Brian Dolan

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsLater today I'll be presenting alongside Rich Roth, the Vice President of Strategic Innovation at Dignity Health, which changed its name from Catholic Healthcare West last year. Dignity provides care to patients at 40 hospitals and care centers across California, Nevada, and Arizona. It has also been one of the more pioneering healthcare systems when it comes to mobile health adoption. Rich and I will also be joined by Dr. Matt Patterson, the Chief Transformation Officer of AirStrip Technologies -- the mobile health company that received the very first FDA clearance for a smartphone app and more recently acquired mobile EHR technology from Palomar Health that enables physicians to easily access data stored in various EHR systems.

During today's webinar -- it's free to attend, be sure to sign up here and join us live at 2PM ET -- we'll be sharing our best guesses as to how the mobile health conversation at HIMSS next month will take shape. Here's a quick preview of my top three trends and questions for HIMSS 2013:

How will healthcare providers approach the patient engagement requirement for Meaningful Use?

Recent months have brought about a noticeable uptick in the phrase "patient engagement". Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, which published in their final form in late August 2012, included different thresholds from the Stage 2 proposal released in February -- timed with HIMSS 2012. To demonstrate patient engagement providers have to show that at least 5 percent of their patients had used some form of secure messaging with their care team. The proposed rule in February required 10 percent adoption. While secure messaging and simple access to health records seem like the most basic of steps toward patient engagement, the requirement is one of adoption not just availability. I expect patient engagement to be a dominant theme -- or very likely the dominant theme -- at HIMSS in March.

Of course, providers can enable access and secure messaging through various technologies and channels, but in recent years mobile has risen up as the consumer engagement channel of choice. Many providers are considering a mobile-centric approach to patient engagement. The MU Stage 2 requirements will accelerate these rollouts and once they begin to take effect in 2014, we will begin to see many more patient-facing mobile health offerings from provider groups.

How will providers deal with an increasing amount of patient generated data?

For technologists this year is shaping up to be the year of the wearable device. Google and Apple are claiming face and wrist real estate, respectively, and a sizeable crop of health and fitness device makers has been growing impressively for the past two years. The proliferation of sensors and wireless-connected personal medical devices is an important related parallel trend. And a contingent of patients are also tracking all sorts of biometrics and observations of daily living via mobile health apps -- no additional sensing equipment required.

These tools exist today. Stage 3 of Meaningful Use, which would not go into effect until at least 2016, might require providers to incorporate health data created by at least a small percentage of their patients. One request for comment that the ONC put out last year suggested that providers help 10 percent of their patients contribute this information, which may include patient-created health goals, exercise data, or other pre-visit information. The comments also sought suggestions for incorporating home medical device data into EHRs.

2016 is a few years away, but I believe this discussion will move quickly, even if implementation only follows the potential MU timeline.

Beyond Apple: Can other device makers win back healthcare providers?

This is a fairly simple question: Will other tablet makers and smartphone companies begin to make a dent in Apple's dominance among healthcare providers? BlackBerry is making it a go of it in general -- what kind of a push will they make for healthcare? Microsoft is pitching its new line of tablets at healthcare providers, too. HP seems to be doing the same. There's also been a steady but small niche market for medical-focused tablet makers. I'm curious about their prospects.

For more on mobile health at HIMSS 2013 join us this afternoon at 2PM ET / 11AM PT: Register Today! And be sure to bring your own predictions and questions for the Q&A at the top of the hour!

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