Mobile health has a very broad definition, especially in the Asia/Pacific. From point-of-care devices used to access and enter data, to SMS appointment reminders, there are multiple areas that mobility assists in healthcare service. It has a role in providing essential medical help in remote and underserved areas as it has in home monitoring the chronically ill in urban areas. The IDC Asia/Pacific CIO Summit, held in Singapore on the 28 - 29 July 2011 showcased two such varied solutions, differing vastly in their sophistication level and aimed at solving different problems.
The RIM presentation used the Oklahoma Heart Hospital's (OHH) search for a solution to improve their remote patient monitoring system as a case study. The alert on an alphanumeric pager with a text message and low-quality waveform had no way of evaluating the criticality of the reading or registering the individual nurse's acknowledgement of responsibility. OHH's answer was the Connexall solution (http://www.connexall.com/) in conjunction with Drager (manufacturer of vital signs monitor) and Blackberry devices. Whenever the monitor reached a specific threshold, all assigned nurses received the waveform, displayed on Blackberry's high-resolution display, a text message and the patient's vital signs, enabling them to monitor the criticality. The nurses could also acknowledge responsibility using the Blackberry.
On the other side of the world, the International Specialist Eye Centre (ISEC) in Malaysia recognized the need for a system that would solve the problem of appointment over-booking and no-shows. Their solution was SendQuick Entera (http://www.talariax.com/) which uses Microsoft's Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) to ISEC Patient Information System to retrieve patient details and sends SMS reminders before the appointment. The data never leaves the ISEC office, maintaining information confidentiality.
On the same day, there was an interesting example of the advancement in mobile health in the news -- the iPad app, Drchrono, which is being advertised as the cheapest EHR in the market. It is the only app of its kind to be named a certified EHR technology making its user eligible for subsidies under the the Hitech Act in the US.
The Asia/Pacific region, with its increased focus on health digitalization, will witness more and more sophistication in its mobile health solutions. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices, driven largely by the high uptake rate of mobile phones and tablet devices, healthcare organizations should consider mobile technology initiatives to boost their existing or upcoming service transformation efforts, both in areas of hospital process streamlining and wellness outreach programs beyond hospital walls.
But, I envisage that extensive application of mobile health in the region still has a long way to go. The question remains whether it will be the indifference of healthcare organizations towards these helpful solutions, or individual apathy to participate in these wellness programs, that will be the main deterrent.