Why Digital Health is the Future of Medicine Starting with EMRs


I will venture to guess that in the coming years bundled and outcomes-based health payment models will be the standard in medicine.  Currently the fee for service reimbursement model will continue because newer systems are not reimbursable.  With the increased use of EMR (electronic medical record), smartphones, and patient portals it is reasonable to assume that the continuation of this trend will lead to mobile health (mhealth) technologies that play an important role in creating a patient-centric model. Digital Health will continue the new frontier of medicine.

The digitalization of healthcare has become a focus of attention because of the enormous potential to communicate better with healthcare providers.  The central role that these technologies play will never replace doctors but will allow all involved to better manage their health through increased engagement and better information exchange.  Many early adopters have seen the importance of these devices.  Self-management of one’s health will prove beneficial to all aspects of the health continuum.  And by providing these tools, a doctor can increase awareness of symptoms and depending on the severity of illness, trigger solutions that alert the patient of ways to treat them.

Patients will more than likely be receptive to following a medical app if prescribed by a physician.  When a patient can participate in a shared decision-making process, the outcomes will, in my opinion, be better.  Mobile health technologies increase the meaningful exchanges of data and communications and keep the patient engaged and alert.

Measuring the patient experience can be broken down into these categories.

Improving patient’s access to care

  •  Same day appointments
  • Email (encrypted)
  • Web portal for Rx, appointments or information
  • Referral to online resources
  • Non-visit care and support


  •  Motivating patients
  • Shared goal setting
  • Home monitoring (when possible)
  • Support groups
  • Family engagement


  •  Language preference
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Active listening
  • Non-medical language
  • Patient survey
  • Devices

Decision making process

  •  Discussing treatment options
  • Asking for patient’s priorities
  • Creating follow up plans

The Society of Participatory Medicine is an organization that encourages active involvement by connected parties (patient, caregivers, doctors, etc.).  Their goal is to advance the understanding of physicians and other professionals of the importance of empowered patients making informed decisions about their care and treatment.  This group and others like them can lead us to the possibilities of the future and wax poetic on the potential of mobile health technologies.  Lawmakers will surely look to them to learn what mhealth can offer.

Currently large telecom companies, insurers and tech firms are dipping into the vast realm of mhealth.  They will be helpful to push the FDA to form legislation that will allow doctors to prescribe and get paid to engage their patients through the use of medical apps.  Certainly new medical students that have been connected all their lives will pave the way to new trends in healthcare.

Iron Comet Consulting is a Mckesson Platinum certified reseller, medical IT firm and medical billing service based in Stockbridge, Georgia. Our products combine the clinical with the financial to improve workflow and revenue capture. Mckesson’s Medisoft Clinical is a complete physician practice optimization solution. For more information, please visit http://www.ironcomet.com



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