Where health meets technology in the modern world, everything falls readily at the feet of the patient. Want to consult with your doctor via video from the comfort of your favorite ottoman? There’s an app for that. Want to calculate how many steps you take in an hour, or measure your daily caloric intake? There are hundreds of apps for that. Want to know if your next-door neighbors’ children might potentially have the sniffles? Well, there’s an app for that. (Yes, really. In a truly missed opportunity, it is not called the Hypochondri-App).
However, the one-on-one, patient-to-physician aspect of mobile healthcare is only one of many roads down which the healthcare industry can travel. From doctors to nurses to pharmacists to psychologists, healthcare encompasses a wide array of professionals, each dependent on the time management and organizational skills of the others. Strong communication among different branches of medical care can drastically change the quality of healthcare provided, smoothening the transitions between specializations, and allowing doctors to more productively treat a greater number of patients.
Hospitals are a classic example of such an intricately intertwined system, filled with symbiotic medical relationships among specialties and hundreds of health professionals dashing from patient to patient. With clinic cases and emergency victims and long-term patients all expecting immediate care, hospitals can be an administrative nightmare, frustrating patients and doctors alike, two categories of people who don’t require additional stress. Navigating the disparate sections of a hospital and pulling them together in an organized fashion is not a simple task – but it is uniquely suited to the growing field of mobile healthcare.
A strong example of this is anesthesiology, a branch of medicine that can be particularly difficult to integrate with the hospital holistic. Hospitals rarely employ anesthesiologists directly, as their work is expensive and their liability is high. This essentially relegates anesthesiologists to the position of independent contractors who work in hospitals, but not exactly for them. Despite this, anesthesiologists interact with patients, surgeons, nurses, and hospital administrators on a daily basis, and the easier these experiences, the greater the benefit to all involved. To this end, Gist proposes: one organized, electronic platform that is available at all stages of the medical process.
Or, professionally speaking, a Perioperative Information Management System.
This sort of mobile healthcare app encompasses functions for each step of the medical process. Operation Registry allows the anesthesiologists to view the hospital schedule with little more than the tap of an app, delivering a day of consultations and operations consistent with a hospital’s most up-to-date information. The features for Pre-Op Consultations record information on the patient’s health, the doctor’s recommendations, plans for future consultations and operations, as well as keeping track of dates, audit logs, and time stamps. Finally, the Post-Op section of the app delivers the exact details of what occurred during the operation to the nurses who receive the patient in the Recovery unit. How much medication was used, and of what type; any changes in a patient’s vitals or fluids; problems encountered by surgeon or anesthesiologist during operation – all of this information is tracked and recorded, then instantly delivered to other medical professionals, a perfect electronic medical record (EMR).
Using mobile healthcare – in this case, an iPad app – to organize medical staff also has benefits beyond improved patient care. As aforementioned, anesthesiologists are in the habit of making legal departments a wee bit twitchy, because of their high liability potential. However, with an app meticulously tracking every part of the operative process, recording an anesthesiologist’s every move and recommendation, it becomes much easier for a hospital’s legal department to determine what happened (or should have happened) in the case of a legal dispute.
Similarly, the expense of employing or contracting with an anesthesiologist can be better tracked, and potentially reduced with these types of mobile healthcare apps at a hospital’s disposal. The current method for paying anesthesiologists involves a paper printout detailing the anesthesiologists’ work, which is delivered to a nurse in Post-Op, and from there to a hospital’s financial department. This billing system involves little to no communication among different members of hospital staff, and may not accurately reflect the anesthesiologist’s work, as the printout is prepared by a third party who was not present for the perioperative process.
Apps like this also contribute to the easy creation of hospital databases that coordinate clinical and workplace information across specialties and medical professionals. Gathering data from multiple departments and even hospitals offers the services of a research and administrative tool, in addition to the archiving purpose. For moving patients from one hospital to another, or switching physicians, or even collecting data on health trends for research purposes, holistic electronic databases are an incredible resource for the health industry. As the use of electronic medical records becomes more prevalent, and hospitals switch overt digital platforms for information storage, the more complete and rapid communication will be among patients, doctors, and administrators.
In the coming years, technological advancement will have an increasingly prominent place in the medical workplace. Current innovations in mobile healthcare deliver an incredible vision for what the healthcare industry could look like: an interconnected system of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, healthcare providers, insurance companies, with information on both professionals and patients that can be quickly transferred and reviewed. Anesthesiologists are just the tip of the medical iceberg.