plications that connect consumers (i.e.,
patients) with the nuts and bolts of health
care delivery: appointment scheduling, test
results, interaction with chronic disease
professionals and online bill pay options.
Consumer interest in mobile health ap-
plications indicates a burgeoning demand for
health connectivity, but mobile connections
between caregivers and patients is evolving
much slower than organizations that have in-
vested in that connectivity expected.
Dean Clinic, for example, has been active
in the mobile market for more than t wo years,
but hasn’t found it to yet be a game changer.
The clinic, with 64 locations throughout Wis-
consin, since 2005 has offered a patient por-
tal with a personal health record. It currently
has 115,000 patients actively using the PHR,
meaning they have accessed it during the last
12 rolling months.
Since September 2010, the clinic has
made the MyChart portal from Epic Systems
Corp. available via an iPhone mobile app
developed by the vendor. Dean Clinic was
the first Epic client to go live with the mobile
app and now has about 6,000 users, says DJ
Curran, telehealth program manager. That’s
around 0.5 percent of the total patient popu-
lation; the clinic had expected about 10 per-
cent of patients would be using it by now.
An Android app was introduced in the
fall of 2011, but didn’t result in a big bump
in usage, Curran says. On the plus side, Dean
Clinic didn’t suffer financially; there’s virtu-
ally no overhead for the clinic except sup-
porting the app on the patient portal, which
the clinic hosts.
The low adoption is partly explained by
the mobile app’s current limitations: The
most popular features on the patient por-
tal are self-service functions—scheduling,
medication refills, bill payment and access
to a medical library that explains test results.
But these features are not yet available via the
mobile software, though they will be in com-
ing months. Another function that will be
added is enabling patients to take and trans-
mit a photo or video, which should increase
interest in the mobile offering, Curran says.
Right now, patients can access a basic
health summary (problem list, medications,
allergies and immunizations), test results,
send secure messages to clinicians, and view
family records with authorization.
For Palo Alto, the goal is deeper patient en-
gagement in their health care, and mobile
devices offer the platform for comprehen-
sive disease management for chronic pa-
tients—led by the patients, Chan believes.
The medical group has used smartphones
during a three-year clinical trial to determine
if using the devices could improve patient
outcomes. The PHR service helped Palo
Alto set the groundwork for migration to
mobile environments by growing an en-
gaged patient base by the time mobile
computing began to mature, Chan says.
The goal of the clinical trial was to create
the new mobile ecosystem that could sup-
port those patients.
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