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Mobile in Healthcare: Past and Present

Maestro has seen first-hand the ways that the healthcare industry has evolved over the past decade due to the proliferation of mobile technology. Everything from selling, to physician education, to patient engagements has been radically changed by mobile technology. While mobile technology has been around since the 80’s, it’s only recently that we have seen it used in such creative, innovative ways. With increases to screen size, storage space, and Internet connectivity, mobile phones and tablets are now being utilized in ways that are making significant improvements to how information is received and communicated in the healthcare industry.

Three specific groups have been profoundly affected by the use of mobile in the healthcare space. It has completely changed the game for healthcare sales representatives (HCRs), physicians, and patients.

We’ll explore how mobile has changed the way that they operate (pun intended!) on a daily basis.

Medical Device & Pharmaceutical Sales Reps (HCRs)

Imagine that you are a medical device sales representative.  You are walking through a hospital when you spot a surgeon that you have been trying to connect with for over a year. In the days of old, you would have had 7-10 minutes to grab the surgeon’s attention, sifting through as much as twenty-five pounds of printed product literature.  Now that time has decreased by more than half to 2-4 minutes.  So, here’s the deal: You have 2-4 minutes to make an impactful presentation – are you pulling the right materials? Are you pulling approved resources? Are you capturing and holding the physicians attention?

Flash forward to a mobile-enabled time, where HCRs are using apps on their tablets and smartphones to increase productivity by organizing, presenting and distributing product information by audience or topic on the spot (all FDA regulated, of course), ordering products in the field, and integrating with backend systems to get all of the necessary information to and from the physician or procurement department at the point of need.ii HCRs are also utilizing mobile by sharing new surgical techniques with doctors, which can be done anytime, even in the operating room!  Mobile is helping HCRs be more efficient, effective and it’s helping them achieve their sales goals in this ever-changing industry.

Physicians

Mobile technology has started to play a huge role in physicians’ every-day use.  Smartphone usage by physicians for professional activities is currently at 86%, up from 78% in 2012, with tablet usage sitting at 53% compared to last year’s 34%.  In short, IT’S GROWING! Fading are the days where check ups are solely face-to-face, and medical records are paper files scanned into a system. 

With the proper security measures in place, a variety of information and resources can be stored on a mobile device for physicians to access at their moment of need.  A recent study found that physicians are using mobile for anything from reading journal materials and contacting other caregivers on clinical issues, to placing lab work requests and remotely monitoring patients.  Chronic disease management is a common challenge with the required amount of check-ups necessary, and mobile technology has provided a way for patients with serious problems to record their own health measures and send them electronically to their physician or specialist.  

The healthcare industry is evolving, and with that comes the need for more innovative solutions to challenges that physicians have been facing for years. Mobile is helping with efficiency – avoidance of errors in clinical treatments, fewer errors in medication prescription, and responding more promptly to reading medical test results.vi There is no denying that finding new ways to utilize these devices is making a positive impact on the way physicians access information and interact with their patients.

Consumers/Patients

There are nearly 13,000 health and fitness apps available! Yeah, you heard me right, 13,000 apps, dedicated to monitoring, tracking, and informing the public about health and wellness.  That number has continued to grow over the years, and to no surprise. Everywhere you look there is a new health trend, new research done into preventative care, and mobile is jumping onboard to support the increased attention society is giving to our health and well-being. I think back to my early days in athletics when coaches would ask the athletes to keep track of their workouts and nutrition, which now can easily be done through an app on a smartphone or tablet. Mobile technology is shifting the way we track our health, whether it’s taking your vitals to send to your doctor on a weekly basis, or tracking the number of calories you consume daily.

Mobile also provides quick access to information, and studies show that the number of consumers using mobile devices to access health information has more than doubled in the past year!  This can be attributed to several factors, the increase in mobile devices being one of them, but with the cost of healthcare on the rise, more people are looking to manage their own health, making smartphones and tablets great tools for this challenge. Technology’s evolution over the years coupled with healthcare has consumers changing behaviors in the way they consume information as well as how they are keeping tabs on their personal health.

As you can see, with all three groups, mobile has dramatically shifted the industry to accommodate various challenges and needs. Information travels faster, users are more productive, and we have more effective ways to track and monitor our health.

Resources:

Apple

Nurep

Salesforce

Information Week

Epocrates

Issues in Technology Innovation

New York Times

American Medical News

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