Articles

March 22, 2019

Mobile Apps for Communication in Healthcare: Benefits and Concerns

With the availability of tablets and smartphones, your employees can transmit various types of data to your company’s information system instantly and wirelessly from any distance. The most common example is emailing healthcare-related images, documents, and notes to the office, which you most likely have had to do.

However, there are privacy and usability concerns associated with commonly available email and instant messaging apps. At first sight, it may seem suitable to use off-the-shelf apps, but the app of your choice may lack the necessary tools for your medical business’s specific needs. This software may have a wide range of settings, but as an end user, you are likely to adjust your business needs to the available software features rather than to configure the application according to your demands. Moreover, off-the-shelf programs do not offer any tools to help you with medical-related routine tasks, such as receiving information directly from diagnostic equipment or checking insurance eligibility.

Therefore, it makes sense to look for specialized mobile software, but if you are running a medical business, you are also aware of possible privacy-related issues. Before purchasing an application which seems to meet your requirements, it is necessary to check it for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA includes a set of federal standards that ensure the security of your patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI). Keep in mind that the matter of HIPAA compliance may be disregarded by mobile app developers, even if the intended purpose of the app is healthcare automation. Always make sure the developer guarantees the HIPAA compliance in the end-user agreement.

Another critical issue is the compatibility of the mobile app with the desktop software you use at the office. You could purchase mobile and desktop applications from different vendors and use them separately, but the most efficient strategy would be to get a bundled software package that is available on both desktop and mobile devices and provides a consistent user interface. It is also worth noting that trying to integrate different software systems may cause reliability and security problems as well as data conflicts and errors, which often results in costly troubleshooting or even data loss.

The most advanced solutions on the market have their own mobile apps that seamlessly integrate into your IT infrastructure. Unlike many off-the-shelf apps, such mobile applications can offer exactly what you need at a reasonable price:

  • Ultrasound technologists can fill out exam worksheets on the go and save them as electronic documents. This feature is especially convenient for mobile diagnostic companies that have their technologists travel from one facility to another throughout the day.
  • Doctors can manage diagnostic studies and report clinical findings straight from their handheld devices, which is vitally important for STAT cases. When timing is critical, you can combine the versatility and speed of a mobile device with the app’s specialized features for the fastest communication possible. For example, you can capture an image using the built-in camera and send it along with the general report via an encrypted connection.
  • Managers can supervise the workflow even when they are traveling. For example, they can track their technologists’ location in real time.
  • Accounting staff can check eligibility instantly and remotely, without time-consuming phone calls to providers or visiting their websites.

These are only a few examples of mobile app functionality that a healthcare business may benefit from. In practice, your software vendor should work with you before developing the app in order to perform requirements analysis and ensure the final product can help you with every facet of your business.

With an application tailored to your specific needs, you can turn your mobile device into a powerful and reliable tool which enables you to complete multiple routine tasks from anywhere easily and thus streamline your medical business.