Healthy Trends for Digital Health

health info on ipadDoctors and patients are increasingly tapping, zooming, and clicking in a flurry of connectivity.  According to Fred Pennic author of HIT Consultant’s Mind Blowing HIT Stats and Trends:

  • 85% of US Physicians own or use any smartphone professionally
  • 62% of US physicians own a tablet
  • 81% of physicians own an iPad
  • 50% of tablet owning physicians have used their device at the point of care
  • 39% of US physicians communicate online with patients via email, secure messaging, instant messaging, or online video conferencing
  • Two-thirds of physicians use online video to learn and keep up to date with clinical information
  • 88% of physicians would like patients to be able to track or monitor their health at home

Physicians spend an average of 11 hours online for professional purposes per week. And those with three screens (tablets, smartphones, and desktops/laptops) spend more time online on each device and go online more often during the workday than physicians with one or two screens.

wireless doctorsIn addition to communicating with patients, most doctors say they wish they could wirelessly access electronic medical records, prescribe, monitor both in- and out-patients and track patient referrals.

And it’s not just doctors. Patients and consumers are at it too!  Health related Google searches are up 47% from last year, and:

  • 20% of patients would like to monitor their fitness & wellbeing
  • 18% would like to allow a physician to remotely monitor a condition
  • 80% of Internet users look online for health information
  • 20% search for health related content on mobile devices
  • 23% use social media to follow health experiences of friends

Even more mind-blowing…in 2012 consumers were willing to spend $14 Billion on digital health products. This included $700 Million on mobile health applications, $4 Billion on health related video games and $8.9 Billion on resources rating doctors & hospitals.

No word from Fred on how much of their health information people are getting from blogs such as Word on Health. But with thousands of views each day, and increase in readership of >100% versus 2011, we certainly seem to be part of this upwards digital healthcare trend.

Where do you get your healthcare information? We’d love to hear from you.

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e-prescribing: e-fficient, but still e-lusive?

Electronic prescribing or e-prescribing, has multiple potential benefits, including helping to reduce the risk of medication errors caused by illegible or incomplete handwritten prescriptions.  However, according to a study funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ),  neither prescribers, pharmacists or indeed patients are getting the full benefit of the technology.

The study, published online in the December issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association focused on a key aspect of e-prescribing: the electronic exchange of prescription data between physician practices and pharmacies. This practice can save time and money by streamlining the way in which new prescriptions and renewals are processed. The study showed that while physician practices and pharmacies were generally positive about electronic transmission of new prescriptions and prescription renewals, connectivity between physician offices and mail-order pharmacies continue to pose problems. Additionally problematic is manual entry of certain prescription information by pharmacists, for example, the drug name, dosage form, quantity, and patient instructions.

Physicians and pharmacies have come a long way in their use of e-prescribing, and that’s a very positive trend for safer patient care and improved efficiency,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “This study identifies issues that need attention to improve e-prescribing for physicians, pharmacies, and patients.”

Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change, conducted 114 interviews with representatives of 24 physician practices, 48 community pharmacies and three mail-order pharmacies using e-prescribing. Physician practices and pharmacies used e-prescribing features for electronic renewals much less often than for new prescriptions. More than a quarter of the community pharmacies reported that they did not send electronic renewal requests to physicians. Similarly, one-third of physician practices had e-prescribing systems that were not set up to receive electronic renewals or only received them infrequently.

Physician practices reported that some pharmacies that sent renewal requests electronically also sent requests via fax or phone, even after the physician had responded electronically. At the same time, pharmacies reported that physicians often approved electronic requests by phone or fax or mistakenly denied the request and sent a new prescription.

The study noted that resolving e-prescribing challenges will become more pressing as increasing numbers of physicians adopt the technology in response to federal incentives. Physicians can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record incentive payments by generating and transmitting more than 40% of all prescriptions electronically.

The study concludes that a broad group of public and private stakeholders, including the federal government, e-prescribing standard-setting organizations, vendors and others will need to work together to address these issues.

Do you have any experience, good or bad with e-prescribing?  Let us know.