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Mobile Technology is a Home Health Care Game Changer.

Mobile Technology, such as cell phones, “smart” phones, and internet connected tablets, have fundamentally changed the way that the average American accesses the internet, purchases products and services, and submits electronic payments. In addition to everyday consumer use, some industries, such as Healthcare are beginning to take advantage of these new powerful, mobile, edge of the network devices.

Home health care in the United States is a growing service that provides in home health services, as well as Hospice and end of life care. In 2007 there were over 14,500 home health agencies in the United States (1). These agencies employ health care workers who typically visit their clients or patients in the patient’s home, or in a care facility. The health care worker is responsible for performing duties that range from simple tasks such as changing bed linens, to more clinical tasks such as taking and recording vital signs, and medication management. The traditional means to document the care of the client or patient has been to carry blank paper forms that the caregiver fills out either at the time of the visit, or in some cases at the end of the day. The use of paper based forms is the not the most cost effective method of documentation. In addition, timely updates to the paper based information are difficult, and manual data entry to transfer the information from the paper into the agencies electronic health records system is laborious and error prone.

Enter mobile technology. Health care technology companies have begun offering software that operates on mobile internet connected devices such as cell phones and smart phones, that replaces the manual paper entry process. (2) A typical home health care mobile system will send the care giver their schedule electronically to the mobile device. The schedule can contain information about where the patient or client is located, what time the care giver needs to arrive, how long the visit should be and most importantly, exactly what the care giver is supposed to do. The mobile software can deliver a patient specific care plan, at the point the care, electronically via the mobile device. When the caregiver has finished the visit, the information is electronically sent to the agencies in-house software system that manages the patient care, and frequently the billing and payroll functions of the agency.

There are added benefits to using mobile devices beyond documentation itself. Most mobile devices use their onboard GPS capabilities as well as other network location based services, to report back to the agency where the care giver is for safety, and to validate and record that the caregiver was geographically within the same area as the patient at the time of care.

While this article briefly touches on some of the uses of mobile technology in home health care, the home health care field represent only one way in which mobile technology is changing forever, the way everyday business, and personal information and transactions are conducted today. With 322 Million Wireless subscribers in the US as of June 2011 (3), the mobile device is by far one of the biggest technology changes in the life of the average US citizen in the last decade.

References
1. Center for Disease Control, National Health Statistics Reports Number 30 November 9, 2010 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr030.pdf
2. CellTrak Technologies Inc. FACT SHEET http://celltrak.com/downloads/Fact%20Sheet.pdf
3. CTIA Wireless Quick Facts. http://www.ctia.org/media/industry_info/index.cfm/AID/10323