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By Jonathon Dreyer, director, mobile solutions marketing

With the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference just around the corner, HIMSS challenged the health IT community to share their opinions on some of the most pressing issues that will be discussed at the show. While I believe topics such as Meaningful Use and ICD-10 are critical and undoubtedly will be focal points at the show, I want to take this opportunity to focus on the future of mobility in healthcare, specifically virtual assistants.

The future of a quality, efficient healthcare system rests on our ability to press industry players to embrace collaboration and push for the creation of a connected ecosystem where – from patient to payer – mHealth technology acts as the ember to spark ongoing innovation. Today, we, as consumers, have grown accustomed to experiencing the power of mobile technology. As mobile technology has evolved, it’s begun to take on an increasingly more complex role in the form of televisions, laptops and cars that listen and now understand what we’re asking for and what we, as individuals, need at a particular point in time.

Healthcare’s “Virtual Assistant”

With this evolution of mobility in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about what a mobile “virtual assistant” could mean for clinicians. In today’s healthcare setting, far too much clinician time is spent on administrative tasks that while important, pale in comparison to the significance of their main duty – ensuring the health and well-being of actual people. But what if we could help clinicians tackle administrative and other day-to-day job duties by enlisting the power of a fleet of virtual assistants that help clinicians simplify interactions, address data-entry headaches with electronic health records, or…

  • Provide real-time, reliable information;
  • Identify missing information in the patient record;
  • Navigate diagnosis and prescription options; and
  • Offer insight on the next patient.

Overall, the everyday consumer understands the power of a mobile virtual assistant. In fact, a recent consumer-focused Nuance virtual assistant survey actually found that more than 60 percent of respondents are interested in using a virtual assistant on their phone and of those who are currently using mobile virtual assistants, more than 80 percent found them useful.

Reinventing Healthcare

Building off these consumer findings, Nuance also recently conducted a similar survey with clinicians. While we can’t share the full results just yet, we can confirm that the percentage of clinicians spending more than one hour of their day on administrative, non-direct care duties is astounding. Clearly, their time could be better spent and virtual assistants can help make that a reality.

As the healthcare community looks for ways to reinvent antiquated approaches to patient care and engagement, mobile technology will increasingly take center stage. The healthcare system and the manner by which we provide patient care today is broken and technology can help reconfigure the pieces back together so as to create a more efficient, patient-centric system.

How do you think mHealth can help eradicate complexity and further humanize healthcare? We asked a similar question to a handful of industry influencers, clinicians, providers and payers, including: @EricTopol,@ReginaHolliday@DrJosephKim@marthawofford@drnic1@Peter_Ragusa@kkleinberg1@eriwickand @gravitytankinc. We’ll be sharing their insight in our “Advancing the mHealth Ecosystem” guide later this month:

In order to address deep-seeded issues that continue to infuse complexity into healthcare, I believe we need to do two key things in which mHealth will play a vital role in each: 1) Identify ways to streamline communication and cooperation across the various involved parties, and 2) Create and adopt intelligent solutions that reinvent today’s outdated processes and approaches to patient care.


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