In the 1970's, most healthcare organizations began the process of using mainframe computers to automate their business processes, e.g. payroll, accounting, logistics. In the 1980's, healthcare organizations began the process of automating selected clinical departmental business processes using mini-computers or servers, e.g. patient registration, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology. In the 1990's, new technologies enabled the development and merger of many of these departmental systems into more fully integrated, 1st generation hospital information systems, i.e. EHR/EMR systems.
In the first decade of the 21st century, advances in telecommunications technologies enabled the development of more comprehensive, enterprise-wide health IT systems supporting hospitals and clinics across geographic regions. The focus also started to shift to start better meeting the information needs of patients. In this second decade of the 21st century, we have seen the development and deployment of personal health record (PHR) systems and consumer health information portals. Advances in mobile technologies and social media have further speeded up the process of further engaging patients in their own healthcare.
The following are three strategies for the coming decade that we ought to be pursuing to further enhance patient/provider collaboration in the development of health IT solutions and clinical practices designed for the next generation.
Mobile Health Apps - Is there an easy-to-use Mobile Manager developer's tool that has been developed that can be used to create simple mobile screens that connect to EHR/EMR/PHR systems and their data. With an easy-to-use Mobile Health (mHealth) tool we could train thousands of developers, clinicians, admin staff, and patients to create a wide range of innovative mHealth apps. Of course we'd need an app store where you could go to share or download the apps, and a way to rank/rate the apps by the users so the best of them rise to the top. I know there are already some open source app development tools, but is there one specific to the mHealth arena?
Health Education & Training Video Channels – Similarly, is there a highly recommended YouTube Video Channel (s) on the web (or something like YouTube) where both patients and employees can go find out more about how to effectively use EHR/EMR/PHR systems? These would be short education and training videos that address a variety of scenarios patients and employees may face and how to find needed information or interact with health IT systems to solve their particular problems. The key would be to engage many tens of thousands of employees and patients to develop and share these short videos with others. Who knows better what is needed than the patients or healthcare providers themselves. Also, like the proposed Health app store mentioned above, as the video are posted to the video channel users should be able to rate the videos so that the best rise to the top and are highlighted.
We know health IT systems of the future need to be continually enhanced to include genomic information, predictive care software modules, and more. But these business process strategies outlined above may be just as important to the future of health IT systems and patient care than these planned technical enhancements EHR/EMR/PHR systems. The keys to these strategies, is the focus on empowering both patients and employees and making better use of existing technologies.
Give us your constructive feedback. Let us know about any mHealth app development tools or YouTube health IT education & training channels that you would highly recommend.