While paper-based files are the traditional method of keeping medical records times are changing – especially with COVID changing the landscape of our society and requiring more digital interaction.
The arrival of smart devices – from tablets to wrist bands – has prompted a revolution in the amount of health-related data a person can collect about themselves. This has significant implications for health records and for the CIOs tasked with managing the data. For doctors, the ability to use personal devices for health applications creates the possibility for better long-term care and greater patient engagement.
The dawn of mobile health technology is changing the landscape – in some ways for the better, while many are concerned that it’s a little premature. There are, technology experts suggest, some issues to be ironed out.
Apps for ailments
There are now hundreds of health-related apps available on smart devices, and the giants of the industry are all promoting the benefits of their health platforms and apps.
Apps can measure:
Steps and distance walked
Photo recognition of skin conditions
Research is also being conducted for a device that uses a smartphone for blood tests. All data for these apps can be sent to a doctor for an assessment and ultimately for a diagnosis. One challenge for health IT is the potential explosion of data from literally millions of devices capable of measuring all types of properties.
One of the greatest concerns about healthcare apps is the privacy risks they pose. This was publicly highlighted following recent research that showed some popular health apps were sharing data with third parties like Facebook.
Unregulated health data is a major risk to healthcare providers.
Unregulated health data is a major risk to healthcare providers and, of course, patients. Some experts say they’re concerned that this could ultimately lead to patients losing confidence in their healthcare provider.
Traditional health practises have their own set of challenges with data integration, which is made more difficult by the various forms health information takes – from handwritten notes to outputs from MRI machines. Public health apps and devices add to this challenge significantly.
With enough data from a variety of health devices, the opportunity to correlate different trends for long-term research also exists. The concept of a "field trial" is taken to a new level with millions of people using devices for health and activity tracking.
The right tool for the task?
When considering adoption, CIOs should investigate:
The data formats health apps use
Which services they rely on
Which standards are compatible with health record information standards they are familiar with
Privacy laws and practises
How healthcare apps can help engage patients in their care
Despite the data explosion, apps do present an opportunity for health IT professionals to be innovative in the way they facilitate information sharing with clinicians. These clinicians can then offer timely and more informed advice to patients, who can take on a more active role in their healthcare.