The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) continues to recognize the importance of mobile devices in the delivery of healthcare and future goals associated with the meaningful use of health information technology in care settings. With the Aug. 23 release of Stage 2 meaningful use requirements, ONC will eventually shift focus to Stage 3, the area of greatest opportunity for input and impact from the mobile community.
It is in stages 2 and 3 that consumer engagement, reduction of disparities, and patient access to data and engagement with their provider come into focus.
During an Aug. 22 speaking event with Nextgov, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the National Coordinator for Health IT, reaffirmed the notion that mobile devices serve a key role in the current delivery of healthcare and increasingly serve a critical role in the future success of the meaningful use program.
For those unfamiliar with meaningful use requirements, more information can be found on ONC's website. Physicians are eligible for incentives to use HIT in a meaningful fashion and the payments represent what may be the largest incentive program leading to the adoption of technology in healthcare. HIMSS.org also has a robust Meaningful Use OneSource to assist with current incentives and overall understanding of the impact of meaningful use.
Mostashari stressed the role of the certification process and the modular approach to certification to assist small businesses with providing IT solutions upon which providers can rely. As many of us know, the healthcare industry can be a slow mover in the adoption of new technologies. Someone once told me "I want to be close to the bleeding edge of technology but not bleeding." Meaningful use has quickly become a test bed for the best uses of wireless technologies to meet meaningful use objectives. ONC has created an incubator for innovative approaches to care delivery with the Beacon and SHARP programs. During the formal comment process on the Stage 2 regulations, mHIMSS workgroup members provided input on how the use of mHealth technologies can assist in achieving the goals and objectives of the meaningful use program.
In addition, Mostashari pointed to a number of critical areas of focus for ONC related to mobile adoption:
- Usability and form factors that mobile technology offers: an mHIMSS Perspective on usability;
- The need to align incentives across Medicare, Medicaid and private industry;
- The democratization of data and patient ownership and engagement; and
- The use of mobile devices as "ubiquitous connected platforms."
Follow-up questions after the presentation focused on best practices that providers can undertake when assessing the role of mobile technology. Again, the mHIMSS workgroups and task force are looking to address these issues with the upcoming release of the mHIMSS Roadmap: A Guide for Providers.
The ONC continues to serve a role in advancing HIT and creating an environment of limited but effective government to assist in the adoption of HIT. ONC is also interested in keeping an open dialogue on how the industry can evaluate and implement mobile technologies in the most "meaningful" way possible.
Tom Martin is the manager of mHIMSS and a doctoral student at the University of Delaware School of Public Policy and Administration. His research is focused on the adoption of technology and the use of incentives and valuation of public goods. For more information on how to engage via mHIMSS, visit the "About Us" page or email .