Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Show Me the Data: Physicians Thinking Mobile for Access to Health Records

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This post was contributed by @MikeMadarasz of the Institute of Internation Research

According to a recent report, as much as 90% of health information found on Wikipedia may be false.  That said, if you catch your doctor on his or her phone, it’s more likely they're referring to an entry on Wikipedia than checking your health records.  According to a recent report, 50% of physicians are using the online encyclopedia for information while only about 18% are accessing electronic health records (EHRs) through mobile.  While doctors’ reliance on Wikipedia may be troubling for many, the biggest implication for those in pharma marketing lies in mobile access to EHRs. 

A recent survey of physicians on the use of mobile and connected health found “mobile access to EHRs” as the number one application the group is considering in the next year with nearly 60% indicating interest.  Similarly, the top “anticipated benefit” to a connected healthcare environment among this group was, "With interoperable EHRs, physicians will have Instant access to all of their patients’ medical histories in real time."  This benefit would appear to be tied to the respondent’s top reason for adopting mHealth—Time efficiency.  The ability to quickly access organized and reliable information is one way to improve efficiency during patient visits.  I’m also guessing most doctors don’t mind not having to decipher the notoriously poor handwriting of their colleagues. 

The desire for digital health information should come as no surprise given the growth in this area over the last five years.  According to a study, the number of office-based physicians using an EHR system has more than doubled, from 35% to 72%, in the span of five years.  Software Advice reports suggest that 40% of buyers are looking to replace or upgrade their systems in the near future of which another 40% would like mobile capability when they do so.  By all indications, physicians are seeing the benefits.

There does, however, appear to one major roadblock in continued adoption of these systems.  Data security, particularly in the eyes of the patient, is a cause for concern.  Most (56%) of patients are either “concerned” or “very concerned” about the theft of health related personal information according to Health IT Security.  In addition, and perhaps more importantly, 61% percent said they would stop using their favorite mobile app if a security breach occurred.  

Apprehension with medical data is not exclusive to the patient.  In the same survey of physicians, “ensuring data security/HIPA compliance” came in as the number one challenge in adopting mHealth applications.  The uneasiness is well warranted.  New York Presbyterian Hospital recently settled for $4.8 million in a lawsuit resulting from a breach in patient data.

We’ve consistently heard that mobile will continue to develop as a tool for pharma marketers.  It remains to be seen whether or not they can “walk the walk” as far getting health records there.

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