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CIO Unplugged 12/1/09

December 1, 2009 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

Going Mobile
By Ed Marx

“I’m going home, and when I want to go home, I’m going mobile. … Keep me moving…Out in the woods, or in the city, it’s all the same to me. When I am driving free, the world’s my home. When I’m mobile.” Going Mobile, by The Who, 1971 Who’s Next, triple platinum album.

Remember the day you bought your first automobile? Mine was a ’73 green Chevy Vega with a six-cylinder aluminum block—not exactly a dream car, but she kept me moving. The above lyrics speak to the freedom and liberty attached to owning your personal set of wheels. Like a bird released from his cage, I remember cruisin’ town while cranking that song on my cassette deck. Ahh, those were the days….

Today, a similar concept of autonomy manifests in mobile computing. I recall, not too long ago, networking at social gatherings and realizing I needed access to my email, but my computer was all the way back home, plugged into a wall outlet. Thanks to ongoing advancements in technology, a Blackberry Storm now rides on my belt, putting email, internet and other info right at my fingertips, literally.

According to emarketer, 59.5M Americans used their smartphones to access the internet in 2008, and the researchers expect this number to climb to 134.3M in 2013. That’s one in every three people using mobile tools!

Has healthcare fully capitalized on this technological revolution? While the nearsighted would say yes, or worse—who cares?—the visionary battles against the restraints of tradition and skepticism. For the sake of our customers who are demanding access, we’ve got to drive mobile computing in or lose pace with society.

No institution wants to fall behind, especially once we start navigating the new highways and byways constructed by healthcare reform (Medical Home, Accountable Care Organizations, etc). An organization must intentionally merge their mobile computing strategy with the hospital strategic plan. Failure to act will run the risk of getting lost on the backwoods roads and putting their organization at a serious disadvantage.

Mobile computing provides a platform through which we can influence quality care, patient safety, and financial results. We call our mobile computing strategy mHealth. Although I cannot divulge this strategy or share specifics, one well-publicized example has to do with our OB/GYN physicians and the iPhone application AirstripOB. This mobile solution had a notable impact on clinical care and physician satisfaction. You can find other examples from forward-thinking healthcare organizations—sales force automation, intelligent devices, personal health records, patient registration, electronic health records etc. Today, iPhone alone carries thousands of healthcare-oriented apps. Some are trial balloons while others hold promise.

Other related strategies include connected health (cHealth), which I will define in a future post. Health Information Exchange, mHealth, and cHealth are all linked—a trifecta with potent force for the successful healthcare organization of the future. Accessing information anytime, anyplace, anywhere, anyapp, anymedia, anydevice, anyperson. And these are just the beginning.

The sage CIO is already engaged.


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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