At first glance, this is interesting. After all, we all have cell phones and are entertained by the explosion of the utility these little devices deliver. I would encourage you to think deeper than that. We are on the front end of a massive shift in the way healthcare is delivered and managed and the penetration of mobile devices is merely symptomatic. They are a necessary piece of the infrastructure and the market is responding to that opportunity.
Medicine is becoming increasingly mobile. In a hospital, physicians and nurses can communicate across floors or buildings, improving the speed of decision making and the execution of care. This can be critical in a hospital setting, for sure. Further, anyone can appreciate how important mobile technology is for the cardiac patient en route by ambulance to the hospital. ER physicians can review an EKG in real time, communicate with EMTs, and better prepare to accept and treat the patient upon arrival. More patients' lives will be saved this way. That is a clear and obvious benefit and a terrific example of the application of mobile communications in healthcare.
The huge and growing Home Health Care market is especially well suited for mobile technologies. According to the National Association of Home Care (NAHC), more than 12 million patients are treated at home. That number will only increase as the population ages and more care is delivered outside of hospital and clinical settings. Companies that provide home health care services and those that deliver medical equipment (DME/HME), supplies and medications are keenly focused on both cost and quality of care. They all need technologies that improve productivity and help them coordinate and manage the home healthcare delivery model. Just a few of the immediate promises include
- Reduced operating costs through better utilization of resources, resulting in improvements such as less time spent driving and reduced fuel costs (see case study note below)
- Increased patient visits, resulting in greater revenue and profitability
- Better care planning and the ability to improve outcomes
- Better coordination with other providers, so that primary care physicians and others can participate in home care decisions, monitor progress
- Items like equipment and medications are delivered before a nurse arrives, so that a nurse visit is productive
- Better communication with family members and "care circles"
One of Ankota's case studies highlights an example of the types of efficiencies that are made possible by this approach. In an industry that drives roughly 5 billion miles each year, better scheduling and planning can reduce miles driven by an average of 25-30%. Or, restated, the home health care industry can reduce its mileage by 1-1.5 BILLION MILES EACH YEAR by using state of the art scheduling and planning software and leveraging mobile devices such as simple cell phones, iPhones, or Blackberries.
To request a copy of the case study referenced above, click here