Friday, November 13, 2009

Efficiency in Healthcare Services through Mobile Applications and Telemedicine

Recently my wife had minor surgery on her arm that was accompanied by an allergic reaction on her skin. She called her doctor who asked for a description. She provided, as best she could, a lay person's description. The doctor listened to the description over the phone and provided some simple recommendations. This was relatively efficient telemedicine for a non-serious situation. There was no visit required, just a couple of minutes of the Doctor's time and everything worked out fine.

It occurred to me later that we could easily have taken a quick well lighted digital photo with my iPhone and emailed the digital photo to our Doctor for review, reference and inclusion in our electronic healthcare records as well. Why not? It would likely have provided better and more accurate information. I wonder how many simple health related issues could be resolved using telemedicine and integrated digital photos sent by the patient?

We are at a transition point in the evolution of mobile technologies. The mobile technology is available and relatively inexpensive, but not yet integrated into even basic services in many cases. We need industry healthcare experts to start implementing these basic technology steps that improve efficiencies and reduce costs for both the provider and the patient.

I am reminded of a call I made to a plumber a few years back. I called and said I need a plumber to do a task. I said, I will send over a series of digital photos that show exactly what I need with measurements. The plumber said, I don't know how to receive and view digital photos. As a result, he drove out, looked at the scene I could have emailed him, left for another hour to purchase the parts and returned. He turned a quick 30 minute job into a 3 hour job with the added fuel and travel costs.

Healthcare providers need not be like the plumber. Telemedicine, digital images, and remote wireless health monitoring devices that send data to the Doctor's office at regular intervals could provide incredible efficiencies.

I would like your thoughts and comments on telemedicine and using mobile and wireless devices for providing healthcare services.

Author Kevin Benedict
Independent Mobile Strategist, Sales, Marketing and Business Consultant