Though progress is being made in mobile health implementations, significant challenges continue to face providers as they try to integrate mHealth technologies into their facilities to improve patient care, according to results of the 3rd Annual HIMSS Analytics Mobile Survey released at HIMSS14. 

The survey of 170 health care I.T. and clinical personnel examined the use of mobile devices in patient care improvement initiatives. Survey participants indicated that the top benefit to having mHealth technologies in their facilities was increased access to patient information and the ability to view data from remote locations. 

However, funding limitations topped the list of barriers to implementation. In addition, providers reported that they are still early in their adoption and implementation of mobile technology. While 69 percent use a smartphone or tablet to view patient information, only 36 percent use mobile platforms to collect data at the bedside. For the second consecutive year, the survey revealed that pharmacy management topped providers’ lists as the most likely use of mHealth technologies, including medication reminders or medication reconciliation.

Among other key findings of the survey: 59 percent of respondents have a mobile technology plan, while 29 percent are developing one; clinicians are most likely to use technology to support patient care by either looking up patient information or looking up non-personal health information; and 62 percent indicated that they offer patients access to at least one of the mobile tools identified in the research, including patient portals, telehealth services and remote monitoring devices.

Still, a mere 22 percent indicated that most of the data captured by mobile devices was integrated into their organization’s EHR. 

“The mobile health market is one of the fastest growing areas in the health I.T. space. We recognize the growing importance of mobile technologies and its impact to transform the delivery of patient care,” said David Collins, Senior Director of mHIMSS. “The survey reflects mobile technology as a transformational tool, as demonstrated by nearly all of the respondents supplying mobile technology to clinicians. This is a great example of how providers are integrating mHealth into today’s healthcare workflows." 

Nevertheless, Collins warned that "there is still work to be done by formally embracing mobile implementation strategies and measuring ROI.” According to the survey, only half of respondents formally measure ROI related to their mobile technology investments, and just a third of those surveyed evaluate the total cost of ownership as it relates to their mobile strategy. 

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