Within recent years, the mobile device has basically become a handheld computer. Before tablets and smartphones, a combination of computers, pagers, PDAs, and landlines were necessary to accomplish the same computing and communication features that can now be done with a single mobile device. Smartphones allow physicians to conveniently make and receive phone calls and text messages, and some medical software applications, or “apps,” provide the ability to easily and securely access electronic patient health information, which can ultimately lead to a reduction in length of stay at the hospital.
Most physicians have already incorporated the use of mobile devices into the workplace. According to a September 2015 Kantar Media Sources & Interactions Study, 84% of physicians reported using a smartphone on the job, while more than half, 51%, reported using both a smartphone and tablet for work reasons. Kantar Media also notes that mobile device use does not correlate to age, as physicians over the age of 60 have increased their smartphone usage to 73%, up from 64% the previous year. Additionally, 93% of physicians own and utilize a smartphone in some manner, either for personal or professional use. A 2016 survey conducted by New Innovations conveyed that of those physicians using smartphones, 74% prefer the iPhone, while the remaining 26% are split among Android and other devices, despite heavy global Android preference.
The 2014 article, “Mobile Device and Apps for Health Care Professionals: Uses and Benefits,” published in Pharmacy and Therapeutics, defines an app as a software program designed for mobile devices or computers intended to accomplish a specific purpose. Today’s mobile devices boast faster processors, improved memory, smaller batteries that live longer, and highly efficient operating systems that drive their rapid integration into clinical practice. Some of the major uses for healthcare apps include those that aid in health record maintenance and access, communication and consulting, and patient management. The intent is for mobile apps to provide a valuable resource by complimenting desktop applications, not replacing them entirely. These resources have the potential to affect and improve patient outcomes directly at the point of care.
Mobile App Benefits That Lead to a Reduced Hospital Length of Stay
Patient confusion, misinterpretation of verbal descriptions, and other forms of miscommunication often result in medical errors, most of which are preventable. With the use of mobile apps such as Photon, physicians and other healthcare providers can take advantage of asynchronous communication — or secure text messaging — and consistent real-time access to clinical data, which greatly reduces the risk of human error.
Instant notification of critical lab values and other panic or alert values greatly improves patient safety and care. Most hospital systems, big or small, acknowledge that ineffective notifications to patient information can lead to preventable diagnostic errors, potentially harming patients. Photon provides real-time, audible notifications sent directly to the provider’s mobile device as soon as new lab values are recorded in the system.
Effective clinical care frequently involves communication between providers that are not always in the same location. This could mean providers are in a different department of the hospital, or even outside the facility altogether. Mobile apps like Photon can be accessed on cellular phones and mobile devices, which allows for instantaneous communication in the form of two-way phone conversations — as well as asynchronously through secure text messaging — enabling providers to respond immediately to urgent alerts, regardless of their physical location.
Communication is further improved when the mobile app is integrated with electronic medical records (EMR). Photon allows healthcare providers to access electronic patient health information (ePHI) directly from their mobile device, communicate with other healthcare providers regarding patient circumstances and outcomes — even the ability to take and upload pictures and videos directly to the patient chart — and integrates fully with the EMR, translating to better documentation of physical findings in the patient’s electronic health record.
Better Clinical Decision-Making
Research shows that mobile health care coordination platforms not only provide communication benefits, but also affect clinical outcomes. According to the 2016 study, “Change in Length of Stay and Readmissions among Hospitalized Medical Patients after Inpatient Medicine Service Adoption of Mobile Secure Text Messaging,” conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and published in The Journal of Internal General Medicine, care teams using a secure text-messaging program can reduce their patients’ length of stay. The year-long study found a 14% reduction in overall patient stays when care coordination was handled with asynchronous text communication instead of traditional paging services.
Over the course of a 2016 three-month case study at Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott, Arizona, results showed that consults initiated with the Photon application — specifically general and orthopedic surgery consults — averaged an improvement in hospital length of stay by approximately 25% versus those where Photon was not used for physician consultations. This included a population of surgical patients with an ALOS as low as 2.7 days.
Providers across the continuum of care are afforded many benefits from mobile devices and other modern communication technologies, including professional healthcare applications. Mobile access and notification to real-time data enhances the call process, conveniently enabling more timely and accurate clinical care. Push notifications provide almost instantaneous updates on patient critical lab values, directly impacting the length of patient wait times. Audible notifications to critical lab values and instantaneous, secure access to complete patient charts directly from a smartphone supports heightened productivity and better clinical decision-making throughout the facility. Physician productivity is further enhanced with consistent access to real-time data, allowing for improved patient documentation and patient care with fewer disruptions to workflows. Secure, patient-centric infrastructure allows users to safely create and exchange ePHI while preventing miscommunication and noncompliant access, providing better clinical decision-making to healthcare providers. These benefits improve patient outcomes, ultimately leading to an overall decrease in patient length of stay and reduced hospital readmissions.
About PhotonPhoton Medical Communications is a cloud-based, HIPAA-compliant “patient information and communication system,” developed to enable timely and accurate clinical decisions using a secure, patient-centric messaging protocol to communicate and collaborate between caregivers. Designed and developed by physicians, technologists, and healthcare business professionals, Photon is changing the way physicians and caregivers interact with their patients obtain and diagnose their patient’s information and interact with each other, facilitating much improved medical workflow. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Photon was developed as an advanced mobile computing software solution for hospitals, ACO’s, physician practice groups, physicians, nurses, and the extended caregiver community. For more information about our solutions or to schedule a demo, visit www.photonmed.net.