There are more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. Many of us look at our phones more than 70 times a day. We bring them with us everywhere we go – to the movies, to our children’s soccer games and to work.
Many of us even have work environments that allow us to ‘bring your own device.’ If that is not an option, our work devices (thankfully!) are looking more and more like our personal devices. And in healthcare, we are now successfully addressing challenges to building mobile healthcare solutions that support our natural use and knowledge of these devices in our life flow.
These devices are now able to deliver capability and function that many of us could not have imagined even a decade ago. Ten years ago the team taking care of a woman in labor had to be sitting on the hospital floor with the expectant mother. The doctor caring for that mother wasn’t planning for the day when remotely monitoring the health of a baby that was about to be delivered would be a reality, let alone monitoring the health and progress of the mother. Today, that capability exists and is used in one out of every six births in America, increasing the level of care for so many babies and their mothers.
Now imagine if a patient experiencing chest pains had 911 emergency responders by his side that could provide his EKG in near real time to the Emergency Department and a heart specialist so they could rapidly assess his condition and provide care. Or that a clinical team, taking care of a patient in the intensive care unit (ICU), could be notified about a patient’s pending worsening condition. In fact, you don’t need to imagine it – both of these situations are a reality now.
Embedding this same predictive technology onto the mobile devices that many clinical teams now carry is the next step forward. Being able to predict the next twelve hours of a very sick patient in the ICU may mean the difference of life or death for a loved one. Soon, we will no longer imagine being able to predict what might happen; we will be able to see into the future and change the outcomes for our most challenging patients.
Dr. Michael S. Weiner, DO MSM MSIST, is Director of Healthcare Strategic Services at IBM. He is a board-certified internal medicine physician and holds Master’s degrees in management and information systems technology. Previously, he served as the Director of the Military Health System Electronic Health Record Way Ahead Planning Office and is one of only a few physicians ever to have been certified as a Chief Information Officer by the General Services Administration.