How mobile healthcare technologies may save your life
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This blog post is contributed by Tom Devlin, Workplace Services, Mobility, Offering Architect, Community of Practice Leader
Never saw it coming
I didn’t know how much I would learn about technologies along my way to recovery from a heart attack. The attack was unexpected, but I have now recovered. While I’m a little overweight, I had no previous issues with high blood pressure or cholesterol, but it happened anyway! Even the staff in the emergency room thought it would be something else until the test results came back.
Some personal advice: if you’re over 50, get a full cardiac workup! If you think you may be having an attack, assume you are and act immediately. In general my health was okay, but it happened nonetheless. Fortunately, my doctors discovered and resolved the problem quickly with the placement of two stents, and I’m now doing well. I was very lucky!
Mobility: When I’m not here, I’m here!
A month after the attack, I was having an issue with an irregular heartbeat. I returned to the emergency room, but my cardiologist was off for the weekend, so I had to see someone who was filling in. I got some medications and was given electrolytes, but I was still concerned since I didn’t get to see my regular doctor.
By the time my cardiologist arrived on Monday morning, I was feeling better. I wanted to fill him in on what had happened, but as I started he said, “I know all about it; when I’m not here, I’m here! I followed the treatment from my iPhone.” Being a mobile technology and device guy, I was pleasantly surprised! In the discussions that followed, I learned that doctors can now access all the available health record information from workstations in the hospital as well as from remote workstations at their home or office. Remote access to health records is somewhat less available to iPhones and iPads, but my cardiologist informed me that more capability to iPad will be available soon.
My cardiologist is savvy with the iPhone/iPad and uses them all the time. He says that remote access by way of mobile device has vastly improved his productivity and awareness of conditions, and it allows him to provide greater quality of care with faster responsiveness in an area of medicine in which time is critical.
My primary care physician also uses the system to remotely access my data, primarily from workstations rather than an iPad and iPhone. (On my recent visit, she mentioned that she needed to take her device back to the IT guy at the hospital to get it working again.)
The mobile enabler, electronic healthcare records (EHCR/EHR)
When I started researching the technology, what I discovered was that my local hospital had implemented an electronic healthcare records (EHCR) system, by which physicians can follow a patient’s progress, ensure that proper tests are taken based on protocols for symptoms and/or possible diagnosis, and enter orders, prescriptions and so on (no more hieroglyphics for the pharmacy to interpret!). In addition, they can see test results—not just reports but images from CT scans, MRIs and so forth. How many hospital systems have been integrated so far, I’m not sure.
In my search for information I also found an IBM video about the use of new technologies in hospital records, Electronic Health Records for Evolving Healthcare, which presents a scenario somewhat similar to my experience. The main difference is that during my hospital visit the “Computers on Wheels” (COWs) were now bedside (on the wall) terminals, and the data had been extended to my physicians’ devices.
Doctors and other medical professionals have mixed feelings about the use of electronic records. My primary care physician values the EHCR system for what it can provide but has concerns about government programs to adopt a “single” unified patient record system as well as about the security of the information. And she has a good point. After all, this is more than just credit card data, and if it gets corrupted lives are at stake. At the same time she understands that there are several solutions out there in the marketplace, and many don’t communicate well with each other. What’s important is that the data about a patient be available to their healthcare providers so they can make quality care decisions.
I have personally seen and experienced the benefits of electronic healthcare records: the improvements in making test results available and the value of physicians being able to enter patient orders remotely instead of nurses attempting to contact them, provide the results and request orders. I’m glad this system was in use when I was at the hospital, and I believe it aided my recovery in that ER. My nurses, cardiologist, electrophysiologist and primary care physician all had instant mobile access to my testing, medications and progress without having to pull a chart.
Mobility in the healthcare future
Healthcare is not my area of specialty, and while preparing this blog post I discovered just the tip of the iceberg of how IBM is involved in healthcare industry trends and issues. along with case studies with the Mayo Clinic, collaborative care articles, webcasts on healthcare BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), smarter healthcare and perspectives on Watson for healthcare. The site also includes information about mobile medical delivery, meeting new regulations, industry trends and issues, healthcare capabilities, life sciences and more. Browse the site and its many links, and if it’s your area of interest follow IBM Healthcare on Twitter.
If you would like to talk more about Mobile Enterprise, feel free to follow me on Twitter.
Tom Devlin has over 29 years experience in IBM with a proven history of producing developing business/technical solutions with positive results. He is an IBM Mobility Offering Architect. and an IBM Redbooks thought leader