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A Patient-Facing mHealth App Can Also Benefit Providers

Inspira Health is launching an mHealth platform to help patients reduce wait times before appointments.The platform will also help administrators manage workflows and improve care coordination.

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- Inspira Health is launching a mobile health platform designed to reducing staffing bottlenecks and take the waiting out of waiting rooms.

The New Jersey-based health system is deploying a mobile app that allows patients to check in online and reduce the wait for imaging, labs and primary and specialty care appointments. The service is already available to emergency care services.

The platform, developed by Florida-based Jellyfish Health, will also give administrators a system-wide view of patient flows, enabling them to spot bottlenecks and assign staff to handle sudden increases in workloads.

“In today’s fast-paced world, most people don’t have time to sit for long stretches in a provider’s waiting room without any idea of when they’ll be seen,” Dave Dyell, Jellyfish Health’s president and CEO, said in a press release. “People have jobs to do, families to raise and errands to run. … One of the fastest ways to gain their loyalty is to show them their time is valued.”

While patient-facing portals have long been used to improve patient access and registration, the more recent addition of mHealth tools, ranging from mobile apps to kiosks, cameras and even sensor-embedded furniture, gives the platform new features that benefit both patients and providers. Patients are able to check on wait times before they even reach the hospital or doctor’s office, using their smartphones or tablets, while providers are using the platform to gather more information on incoming cases and, in essence, direct traffic before it backs up.

And while healthcare administrators see the platform as improving patient engagement and patient satisfaction efforts, they’re also improving efficiency on the back end. Resources, including staff and equipment, are placed where they’re needed, rather than rushed from department to department, and departments are able to coordinate patient information, labs, tests and appointments without wasted time or effort.

And they’re finding that a mobile device can be as valuable to a clinician as to a patient.

In a 2016 study by Spyglass Consulting, 63 percent of health systems are deploying or plan on implementing an mHealth communications platform of at least 500 smartphones within the next 12 to 18 months. And 44 percent of those organizations have a comprehensive strategy in place that looks at smartphones as more than just a communications tool.

“The strategies are evolving,” says Gregg Malkary, managing director of the Spyglass Consulting Group. “Hospitals and health systems are finding that you can do a lot more on a platform with a common workflow engine that just communication. Care coordination means a lot more these days.”

“While initial deployments are often limited to support clinical messaging between nurses and their support staff within targeted medical departments, many organizations quickly expand the scope and usage models to include all hospital workers and workflows across medical departments, standalone hospitals and ambulatory environments and clinics,” Malkary said in a press release accompanying the study.

So while health systems like Inspira Health are expanding mHealth access for patients, they’re also opening the door to better workflows and care coordination.

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