BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s Fraser Edward made a poignant comment this week to a Canadian newspaper: “Right now information is a bit fragmented and not quite synchronized, but in time it will all be seamless. Then smartphones will truly break the barriers between hospitals and home care. The next couple of years will be about gluing it all together.”
If smartphones or wireless sensors or any form of consumer-centered healthcare disrupts the healthcare industry, the key to its enduring success will be in being able to put healthcare back together again. What’s the key to making it all work? What is the glue?
For many the glue is workflow management systems, which aim to make it easier for physicians, nurses and other caregivers to use this new influx of data. Take an influx and make it a seamless addition to the day-to-day.
Duke University’s Gopal Chopra told me last week that he also believes that this problem of “gluing it all together” was the big one for wireless healthcare, but instead of smartphones, Chopra believes it’s especially true for integrating wireless sensors’ data into the healthcare IT workflow:
“You can enable ubiquitous [wireless health] sensing, but without a services and disease management workflow system in place, who is this data going to? Who will interpret it? If there are algorithms involved with telling users what to do, well, who is overseeing that? There’s risk in that. You need a care provider to be overseeing it…” Chopra said.
Finding a way to integrate the wireless sensor or the physician’s evidence-based point of care mobile application is key. It can’t be an after thought. It needs to be an integral part of any wireless healthcare start-up or product’s strategy. We can’t feed data to siloed portals. If workflow for physicians and data flow for patients is figured out for these solutions, wireless healthcare has a chance at bucking the Humpty Dumpty fable (remember they couldn’t do it), and to contribute to the task of putting healthcare back together again.