A ‘connected’ doctor balances his priorities
Michael Jordan, MD, first used a tablet in his pediatric practice in 2004. He’s since added a smartphone with a few carefully selected apps to his arsenal, and he isn’t interested at all in looking back to those distant days when he couldn’t call up needed information at a moment’s notice.
You could call him connected. He prefers to look at it as simple, effective healthcare delivery. And his patients are certainly grateful.
Jordan (no, he’s not that Michael Jordan) is part of East Lake Pediatrics, a two-clinic, six-provider network based in Trinity, Fla., that sees some 125 patients a day (as well as a number of newborns). He helped beta test the mobile version of Greenway’s Intergy EHR, and feels that mHealth and EHRs are uncomfortable dance partners at present, but will get into rhythm once providers (and EHR vendors) learn how to sort through the data to offer doctors what they need at the point of care.
“You need to give doctors what’s important to them,” he says, adding that Greenway’s product does just that. “It’s pretty cumbersome now, but that’s going to get better.”
That’s the promise of mHealth: Making the doctor’s life easier. Once those workflows are improved, Jordan says, doctors will gravitate even more quickly to smartphones and other mobile devices – and then they’ll start to recognize that these, in turn, lead to better interactions with their patients and that Holy Grail of healthcare, improved clinical outcomes.
Those clinical improvements might be there now, Jordan says, “but they’re not really being tracked. (Doctors) are worried right now about convenience and efficiency. Once those problems are solved (other improvements) will come more easily.”
For his part, Jordan has four healthcare apps loaded onto his smartphone:
- The Epocrates clinical decision support app, which enables him to look up common conditions and diagnoses at a moment’s notice;
- The IMO Terminology Browser, from Intelligent Medical Objects, which enables him to look up ICD-9 codes;
- The Pager app from OnPage, which enables him to set and adjust alerts and confirm receipt of important messages; and
- The PocketCloud Remote Desktop app, which basically enables him to run his practice from his smartphone when he’s away from the office.
“In my everyday workflow, these are the ones that I’ve singled out,” says Jordan. Just as important is the fact that he has a few specific apps available, but isn’t loading up his smartphone – or cluttering up his workflow – with a collection of apps that may be useful at times, but would be more bothersome than beneficial overall.
Jordan says his practice does have a Facebook page, and sees social media as a proper channel for sending out mass notifications – an upcoming event, an office closing, etc. But the emphasis there is on ‘social,’ rather than healthcare. It’s a means of improving patient engagement, he says, by coloring in all the areas around the actual clinical encounter.
He says his patients “like the fact that they can access their information outside the office,” and welcome the fact that their doctor is connected to whatever information he needs when he needs it – not just when he’s sitting in front of his computer in his officer or a hospital.
And while texting or sending e-mails might be right in some instances, that’s not always the case. “Sometimes,” he says, “a phone call works best.”
To that end, Jordan says his patients have little interest in HIPAA. “They don’t want you fooling around and blabbing out personal information,” he said, but they feel the restrictions imposed by HIPAA are a bit too, well, restrictive.