As a pediatric cardiac intensivist, I start each morning by doing my rounds in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) at the Children’s of Alabama in Birmingham. It doesn’t sound out of the norm, except every other week I’m handling it from 500 miles away at my home office in St. Louis, Missouri from an app on my phone. While I spend the other weeks in Birmingham on-site at the hospital, technology has given me the flexibility to live remotely while still ensuring the highest level of care for my patients.
When I talk to fellow clinicians at Sequoia Hospital who are now using mobility to monitor labor and delivery patients, or view ECGs in near real-time, the reactions are uniformly positive. They praise the ability to make faster, informed assessments based on the information they access on their smartphones or tablets and the workflow improvements.
However, from a surgeon’s point of view, the most exciting developments are just starting to happen. Incorporating mobility throughout the cardiac care continuum and providing constant monitoring of patients anytime or anywhere is the real game-changer. Because we are most interested in the total care of the patient, continuity is crucial – and mobility enables this in ways that were never possible before.
Health systems are facing several pressures based on the current and projected state of cardiovascular services. Growth is declining and reimbursement trends will squeeze margins of a service line that most health systems depend on for survival. Maintaining competitive advantage in capturing a larger share of a shrinking pie as well as in driving next generation cost efficiency will require care pathway innovation. Thoughtful application of mobile technology can enable this innovation, and for many reasons the cardiovascular service line is particularly well suited for mobility.