Clinical Buy-In Is Key To Successful Launch Of mHealth Projects

Posted on by Frank J. Rosello

As patient engagement becomes a priority in hospitals, its clear that mobile technologies can help bridge the gap, whether it is reminding patients of medication schedules or monitoring blood levels.

But as technology professionals know, success requires acceptance by medical professionals.

Steven Dean is director of telemedicine at Inova, a five-hospital healthcare system serving northern Virginia, has rolled out a series of telehealth projects and explains the key: “You have to have clinician buy-in in order to achieve success.”

Dean will share his experiences on Tuesday, December 10, at the HIMSS Media mHealth Summit in Arlington, VA, Dean will walk attendees through Inova’s experience in his presentation, “Nimbility:  Augmenting System Infrastructure with Mobile Capabilities.”

Inova’s mHealth efforts began with a general wireless system running across the enterprise.  Over the past three years, Dean’s focus shifted to enhancing capabilities one specialty at a time.  The organization focused first on tele-stroke services, then tele-psych, and then tele-pediatrics.  Next up, he said, is dermatology.

Regardless of the specialty, Dean said one of the keys to the successful development of mHealth capabilities is ensuring a collaborative process between IT services and clinicians.

Moreover, he said, it’s important to recognize that any technology works best when it fits properly with clinical workflow.

“The key is identifying and understanding your workflow up front,” he said, “then facilitating the  use of the technology around it. For years, you were beholden to what was technologically available. Now you can do what you want technologically, so it’s much more about getting the process right.”

While he thinks mHealth is here to stay, Dean also points out that numerous challenges remain.  For example, while Inova has been in the mHealth space for a while there aren’t a lot of studies yet that demonstrate clearly the technology’s clinical efficacy.

Consequently, all new tools, including effective mHealth tools, will be critical.

As for Inova’s own efforts, Dean said the organization is still just beginning to connect its mHealth efforts with its other technological initiatives.  With a new EMR system and dedicated analytics and informatics departments, “we have the components of ‘Big Data’ in place,” and Dean said Inova is working on putting all those systems to work in pursuit of goals such as reducing readmission rates.

Article written by Jeff Rowe

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