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Connected Health: Information Technologies for Providers

Added on 31 Jan 2014

Authors: By Isabelle Celentano; Reviewed by Marie Connelly, Joaquin Blaya, PhD

The percentage of office-based physicians with electronic health records (EHRs) is up to 78% since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act authorized incentive payments for eligible providers to encourage EHR adoption in 2009 (CDC, 2013). EHRs, however, are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technological innovations in healthcare.

GHDonline hosted an Expert Panel in collaboration with the 2013 Connected Health Symposium, as part of the US Communities Initiative. Panelists discussed information technologies (IT) and how they can properly facilitate and enhance patient-centered care, surrounding health technologies for providers to highlight the many tools and innovative technologies available to clinicians. Participants discussed a range of topics, from the standardization of health information collection, to data outside of an HER (para-EHR), and initiatives that are using and developing new technologies in effective ways.

Key Points:

  • Monitoring and alert systems through health information technologies (IT) allow for better follow-up of patients and population management for providers
  • Para-EHR information - which includes patient-generated data like text messages, emails, and images that reside outside of an EHR - could support providers in complying with Meaningful Use requirements put in place to emphasize actionable outcomes from EHRs when innovative ways to capture it come into place
    • Panelists agree there is a need to handle para-EHR information in a way that "resonates with the human side of the patient"; these data are not actionable when viewed outside the context of the patient
    • Patients with differing levels of education and technological literacy may require different platforms for use of consumer health informatics (CHI) applications
  • Standardization of information collection and presentation ensures the proper pertinent clinical information is being gathered for specialists (who may be working remotely and not have access to the patient) to make informed clinical recommendations
    • After de-identifying patient information, data can be collected over time allowing for a population level analysis
  • Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) uses videoconferencing to connect primary care providers with clinical specialists to offer more comprehensive, patient-centered care
    • Regular tele-health clinics - include multidisciplinary teams consisting of MDs, PHNs, social workers, and pharmacists from across the country - allow providers to participate and receive expert advice about specific cases

Mobile solutions for healthcare providers:

  • Cell-phones allow for ease of use through familiarity with the user interface; even inexpensive "dumb" phones that are capable of text messaging can be valuable tools for connected health
    • SMS messaging tools have been used in the US and internationally to send patients appointment reminders, medication alerts, motivational messages, and more
  • CliniCam offers a mobile app that allows providers to securely capture clinical images and transfer them to a patient's EHR
  • NFC eMAR provides an electronic medication administration reconciliation application for nurses that allows for bar-code based medication administration through an easy-to-use, portable tablet
  • MobileCT has created an app that allows providers to access clinical images remotely, or share these images with other clinicians to request a second opinion or referral
  • Twiage is a mobile-to-web app that allows for timely and accurate communication of pre-hospital data collected by first responders in the field to clinicians in the emergency department

Key References:

Contribute to the Conversation
Please consider replying to this discussion with the following information:

  1. As a provider, are there specific innovative health technologies with which you have experience? How have they succeeded and where do they fall short?
  2. As a patient do you have experience with providers using or recommending similar technologies and mobile applications? What effect has it had on your care?
  3. How can the impact of these innovations in technology be measured? What is the relationship between para-EHR, remote monitoring and evaluation, tele-health clinics, etc. and the current fee-for-service system?

Download: 2014_01_30_Connected_Health_for_Providers.pdf (114.0 KB)