Stay Informed on Emerging Developments
According to Gabriel, today’s successful mobile tools fall into two categories— information consumption, which allows clinicians to quickly access patient records, and well-defined data-entry applications that allow physicians to prescribe, sign orders, or acknowledge receipt of patient information.
New technologies are constantly emerging that can change the nature of the game. Over the next few years, mobile apps will likely allow clinicians to do much more than consume information and issue simple prescriptions and orders.
One developing technology is poised to significantly change physicians’ experience with mobile health care apps: voice recognition technology.
“Keyboards will become an antiquated way to put information in to the system. In the future, you’ll see a lot more complex data entry being done with voice-to-text on a tablet,” Gabriel said.
Bonham agrees that voice recognition technology is a trend to watch in mobile IT.
“Voice technology is a potential solution for the data-entry problem, and that’s definitely something that vendors are going to be exploring and offering in the future,” she said.
Another emerging trend to watch is the development of health care applications for patients. A recent Telehealth pilot in France received an innovation prize for empowering patients to use iPads to monitor their conditions and interact with physicians, increasing patient satisfaction and support.
Weinstein already takes steps in his practice to put mobile technology to use for his patients.
“I use my patients’ mobile phones to set alarms that remind them when it’s time for office or dialysis appointments, when it’s time to take meds, or when their bills are due,” he said.
Small steps like these can help patients get comfortable with using mobile devices to take charge of their health and better prepare them for future technologies with more capabilities.
“There are apps in development today that use biosensors to allow patients to collect information about their health status,” Gabriel said. “Ultimately, these apps aren’t just about making clinicians’ practices easier. They’re about improving patients’ quality of life and care.”
While today’s mobile nephrology apps offer many useful tools, the future is wide open, Gabriel said, and the real beneficiaries will be patients.
Allyson Westover, marketing communications specialist for Falcon EHR, is an avid mobile IT user. She received her degree from Wake Forest University and has been working closely on nephrology health IT solutions at Falcon.