This post was originally posted on HIMSS Clinical Informatics Insights.
By Philip Bernard, MD, Director of Physician IT Services, University of Kentucky
Cheryl Parker, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, PatientSafe Solutions
At a 2009 Texas Regional HIMSS event in a room filled with CIOs and IT Directors, a speaker boldly predicted that smartphones would become a clinical tool and that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) would be commonplace. The response from the audience was basically – not in my organization, no way! Times have certainly changed.
According to Pew Research, nearly two thirds of Americans own smartphones and those smartphones are making their way into the clinical environment, whether or not organizations approve. The average person is now accustomed to having incredibly powerful computers (i.e. smartphones) in our pocket with far-reaching implications.
Almost 10 years ago, nurses were asking for a way to have a pocket sized device, with large enough fonts to be seen by those of us with bifocals, that would have all the information needed to care for the patients and do document at the point-of-care. It simply wasn’t possible back then.
Smartphone technology has made the nurses’ wish list a reality. According to Steve Shirley, CIO and vice president of IT at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, CO consolidating the EHR data, voice and secured text communications, as well as a barcode scanner to a single smartphone based device has made a positive impact on simplifying workflow for nurses, respiratory therapists and phlebotomists, improving response time to patient requests and reducing interruptions. Barcode scanning medications, flowsheet documentation and specimen collection are all being done using smartphone technology.
In the recent past, cell phones weren’t even allowed in many healthcare environments. In the span of a decade, clinicians now have more information and resources readily available than at any time. Telemedicine was once associated with infrastructure, cost and regulatory hurdles. The ubiquity of smartphones and associated broadband availability is now a reality – with providers being reimbursed for their services. Interfacing/integration with the EMR and medical devices has increased availability of patient information as well as avenues for notification of critical results. E-prescribing from the smartphone is ubiquitous. Medication dosing is a readily available. Secure text messaging is revolutionizing communications among providers with regulatory agencies working to provide oversight of this emerging technology.
Smartphone usage has a huge potential to decrease the $100 billion annual in waste from medication non-compliance. Pill reminder apps, text-notifications from pharmacies and ease of prescription renewals through patient portals have fundamentally altered the ecosystem of medication administration for the patient. Information now available to providers through HIEs helps determine timeliness of refills. Rob Sprang, director of Kentucky Telecare, emphasizes that we should expect to see even greater utilization in the future.
“Access to advanced communication technologies and broadband network communications have expanded to nearly every American through their cell phones and it should be expected that patient demand for convenient, healthcare services delivered via this nearly ubiquitous technology will fundamentally change the healthcare delivery system.”
Forget press releases and vaporware: The cell phone in your pocket has already revolutionized the field of healthcare and will continue to do in ways we haven’t dreamed up yet.
About the Contributors
Philip Bernard, MD, is the Director of Physician IT Services at the University of Kentucky. Bernard is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatrics and Critical Care Medicine.
Cheryl D. Parker, RN, MSN, PhD, FHIMSS, is the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at PatientSafe Solutions, Inc.