HIMSS Keynote: Mobile devices, IT will cause true reformation in U.S. healthcare

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ATLANTA--Clinicians, heathcare executives, as well as the IT tools they utilize to improve direct patient care will truly revolutionize the U.S. healthcare system, stated Barry Chaiken, MD, chairman of the board of directors for HIMSS, at Monday''s opening address and keynote session at HIMSS10.

"Healthcare IT is the instrument that will transform healthcare and it is we–the informaticists, clinicians, management engineers, senior IT executives, IT specialists and the diverse talents of so many others–who will create the applications, processes and workflows that will improve quality, safety, access and cost-efficiency," he said.

Chaiken cited 2006 data that the U.S. was rated 36th for industrial counties in life expectancy to indicate how the medical industry could be performing better through the use of IT adoption.

“IT solutions need to be so compelling and appealing to want us to leave behind the paper medical record,” stated Chaiken. He said the advent of computer adoption was not demanded by industry, but by the workers because new devices, such as personal computers actually increase productivity and reduce time in comparison to the “old devices,” such as White-Out and Post-It notes.

“Great science comes from flip flopping so don’t be afraid to change your opinion as more data is gathered and presented,” Chaiken said. He introduced the first keynote speaker for the conference: Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel, who spoke about the evolving role of mobile applications for the future of healthcare.

The number of active cell phone users is more than the number of active users of television, PCs and cars combined, stated Hesse. Out of a total of 6.8 billion people globally, four billion of them actively use cell phones with 277 million users residing in the U.S. “Ten cell phones are made each day for every baby born,” stated Hesse.

Hesse aslo pointed out that out of the 6,000 active Sprint users attending the session, 2,000 were reviewing Atlanta restaurants, 750 were watching Hulu and 2,500 were posting comments on Twitter responding to Hesse’s comments.

After noting that the U.S. healthcare industry spends 2-3 percent of its revenues on IT while chronic disease conditions continue to rise, Hesse quoted Darwin as saying that it’s not the strongest or smartest that survive but those who are most responsive to change.

“This change for IT is being helped by consumers,” said Hesse, adding that mobile, wireless devices are changing the delivery of healthcare.

Currently, there are applications available where a person can cough into their smartphone and it will state whether the cough was dry or wet; productive or unproductive. Hesse also said that mobile smartphone applications can track flu outbreaks and provide a shape and size overview of skin cancer.

These mobile, wireless technologies can save time, cut costs and help save lives, Hesse stated. “Imagine the video recording capability to record a live feed from the EMT on its way to the hospital while transferring that data in real time to the physician, so he or she knows the patient’s condition before they enter the building,” he said.

Mobile devices have changed the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions, Hesse stated. With the home healthcare industry expanding, Hesse expected the home healthcare market in the U.S. to grow from $304 million to 4 billion by 2013.

Device interconnectivity will be a huge driver for the healthcare industry, Hesse believes.

Mobile phones will assist the healthcare industry transform the management of chronic diseases, the ability to confront pandemics, the management of heart attacks and provide caregivers more opportunities for patient care in various places, Hesse stated.