Before joining Microsoft in 2002, I served as head of informatics for the Warwickshire Health Authority in the United Kingdom, where I helped deliver key services to healthcare professionals across the county. Hundreds of nurses and other health professionals were delivering home care, and I could see how mobile technology could help them perform their jobs more effectively. Yet while mobile devices were in use, they were expensive to own, and mass acceptance among healthcare professionals had yet to occur.
Today, all that has changed. There are now more mobile devices than there are people on the planet. In fact, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets are multiplying at five times the rate of the human population—with the technology far more powerful and affordable than it once was.
With so many people carrying around mobile devices, mobile solutions are poised to help remote patient care professionals improve their work in simple, yet profound ways. From district nurses providing aftercare, to patients with long-term illnesses, to school nurses delivering vaccinations, to students, mobile technology can provide the up-to-date information they need. And this, in turn, can help cities keep their residents healthier, while dramatically reducing costs.
To take a simple example, consider a nurse driving around to work with patients in their homes. Rather than printing out her meeting schedule the night before, she can see her up-to-date schedule on her mobile phone—including those patients who canceled at the last minute. If an average two of eight people cancel their appointments each day, the nurse could avoid wasting about a quarter of her day driving to their homes, freeing up valuable time to care for other patients. While that may not sound significant, over the course of the year, all that reallocated time adds up. And when you consider thousands of health and social care professionals delivering home care, cities have the opportunity to dramatically save costs, while treating many more patients and citizens, much more quickly.
Likewise, remote care professionals can use mobile technology to improve care once they reach their patients’ homes. With access to up-to-date electronic medical and social care records, nurses can see exactly what has been done and what remains to be done. For example, a home healthcare aide can see that his patient was admitted to the hospital the previous day and therefore already received one of the treatments he was planning to administer. With that knowledge, he can focus on the other treatments the patient may need or move on to the next meeting if the patient is still in the hospital.
Across the world, more and more governments are turning to home healthcare as an alternative to pricey hospitalizations and emergency room visits—and mobile technology is poised to help make this rapidly growing sector a bigger success. By embracing mobile solutions, remote healthcare providers can obtain the real-time information they need to improve patient care, managing a seemingly infinite demand with the finite resources at their disposal. To learn more, please visit Microsoft CityNext’s Healthier Cities and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.