Why Robust Technology is Crucial to the Success of Mobile Integrated Healthcare

In many ways, the movement toward success in Mobile-Integrated Healthcare (MIH) wouldn’t be possible without modern technology. This is one of the reasons MIH is exciting – it’s a natural evolution of healthcare in the modern age.

But why is robust technology vital to mobile integrated healthcare-community paramedicine? Where would health systems be if they fully embraced the possibilities? And how is healthcare hindered when good technology is undervalued? These are all questions we’ll work to answer.

Technology can be a vague word. In this article, we’ll outline exactly what we’re talking about when we discuss technology and mobile integrated healthcare.

What Types of Technology are Important for the Success of Mobile Integrated Healthcare?

Technology can mean a lot of different things. Technically, a spoon is a form of technology. When we talk about technology for mobile integrated healthcare, what do we mean?

Technology for MIH:

  • Strong computers: This includes tablets for field use, laptops for documentation, and a camera system that allows for live video interviews. 
  • Software and systems: These include the apps, programs, and online systems that MIH service uses to do their jobs. Unfortunately, this is often an area that goes overlooked (it’s also the area with the most untapped potential).
  • Vehicles and medical equipment: Vehicles and medical equipment are another form of technology mobile-health providers need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Just like strong internal communication or regular stakeholder meetings, technology acts as a cornerstone to build strong MIH healthcare programs.

The Role Technology Plays in MIH-CP

The easiest way to see how much technology helps mobile-integrated healthcare is to imagine the same system functioning two hundred years ago.

There would be no cars for responding to patients. No reliable communication method. Little ability to track and share information. Frankly, the idea of mobile integrated health wouldn’t be possible.

But even if we move the clock forward, even as recent as the 1980s, we see that numerous hurdles would prevent strong MIH – no reliable internet, no portable video chat, and cumbersome paper documentation.

Even today, there are still hurdles with communication. Success in mobile integrated healthcare requires quick and comprehensive communication between providers.

What technology do MIH providers overlook the most? It’s often the software and the unseen possibilities it provides. Why is this? It likely has to do with the nature of software – these are things that we can’t see and touch, like we can see and touch a new computer or a new vehicle.

Understanding that software can be overlooked, let’s take some time to outline why robust software technologies should be a primary focus.

The Five Reasons Robust Software Technology is Crucial to MIH-CP Success

Talking about technology, software, and systems tends to get a little dry, so in the following sections, we’ll discuss tangible examples of why good technology is essential to healthcare delivery.

Five reasons good technology is so crucial to mobile integrated healthcare:

  • Provider interactions (physician)
  • Data collection (micro and macro)
  • Patient connection (they need to be able to reach out)
  • Fleet coordination
  • QA and goal-tracking

Now, let’s explore these points further.

Technology Facilitates MIH Provider Interactions

Many years ago, physicians would make home calls, assessing and treating people in the comfort of their homes. Today, this is not a popular method of treatment.

Thankfully, technology has brought everything full circle. These days, it’s common for community paramedics or home health nurses to facilitate a live video chat between a physician and their patients. This gives patients and providers several advantages.

For one, patients don’t need to sit in a waiting room or spend time traveling to a clinic. When the physician is ready, they can call the patient and have a discussion. The paramedic is there to act as the eyes and ears for the physician, performing a hands-on assessment and then communicating the results to the physician.

In many areas, the paramedic is training in advanced skills, such as blood draws, EKGs, or diabetic exams – this reduces the number of times a patient must travel to a clinic.

Physician video calls with patients would not be possible without modern technology. Now, let’s talk about technology’s role in data collection.

Strong Technology Helps Mobile Health Programs with Data Collection

The term data collection isn’t particularly exciting, and perhaps this is one of the reasons it goes overlooked. However, good data collection is often the difference between a mobile integrated health program that fizzles out and a program that stands the test of time.

Data collection could be many things. We can think about data collection in a macro and a micro sense.

On the macro level, data collection refers to collecting information about a community’s demographics and health patterns. For example, tracking the number of 911 calls per patient or the specific types of calls (overdoses, mental health calls, or chronic ailments).

Gathering and organizing this data is critical, as it will guide your program’s goals and tell you where the most need exists.

On a micro level, data collection helps manage goals for individual patients. Suppose managers and administrators need access to the macro data. In that case, health providers need access to the microdata – they need to watch the trends of the individual patients, ensuring their care stays on course.

While all this can seem straightforward, managing this many individual numbers is very difficult. Often, health providers have tools for each task, but they are disconnected, making it hard to get a clear picture. Just imagine how hectic it would be to have a different cell phone for each person you talk to.

An MIH-CP survey sponsored by JEMS found that, though there is a strong showing of data collection among providers, there is still room for improvement.

Good Technology Helps Patients Stay Connected

In addition to keeping providers connected to patients, good technology also ensures that patients can stay connected to their providers. What type of technology are we talking about?

A working phone that the patient can easily access is an excellent place to start. However, some areas might have app/online-based ways for the patient to connect with their provider. Of course, ensuring that patients have 911 bracelets and necklaces if needed is essential.

Patients feel more secure in their care when they have a strong connection with their providers. Just this sense of connection may help reduce unneeded 911 calls, as patients feel they have a more viable option.

Mobile integrated health programs will also ensure that patients are aware of the resources available and that they can reach out (via the internet, phone, in-person, etc.). Sound technology ensures that patients can fully engage with the provider.

Now, let’s talk about fleet coordination.

Fleet Coordination is Tied to Accurate Technology

Good technology, such as GPS trackers and software to organize ambulances (and other health-related vehicles), is essential to mobile integrated healthcare.

Community paramedicine-mobile integrated healthcare is about a community working together as one organism. And that means that everyone needs to know where each other is. An interesting parallel to this would be a football team. Imagine if all the football players were blindfolded – complete chaos would ensue.

Unfortunately, many health systems would admit some level of chaos concerning fleet management. If nobody knows where the resources are, it becomes complicated to provide a coordinated effort.

Health systems need ground-level technology, such as the GPS tracker, for good fleet tracking and resource management. Still, they also need software that ties everything together, synthesizing data into workable information.

On top of fleet organization, good technology allows providers on the ground to share information safely. Platforms such as Julota’s MIH-CP software facilitate healthy relationships between community members, even if they don’t work for the same company.

Quality Assurance and Tracking MIH Goals Requires Modern Technology

Quality assurance for mobile integrated healthcare should be subjective and objective. What does this mean? Patients should be satisfied, and providers should report positively on the program. However, it also means that the numbers should mirror what’s being reported by providers and patients.

While hearing someone’s opinion is an essential aspect of tracking the success of a program, having the numbers to back up specific claims is crucial. Robust software technology will help mobile health services compile data into simple reports, which can then be used to gauge the program’s health.

Finally, using technology to track progress accurately can make it much easier to form community partnerships and build community support, as you can use positive data to demonstrate that your program is working.

Final Thoughts: The Importance of Good Technology for the Success of Mobile Integrated Healthcare

Good technology is one of the main reasons modern mobile integrated healthcare exists. Technology facilitates provider connections, data collection (macro and micro), community health fleet coordination, quality control, and more.

If you want to maximize the potential of your mobile integrated health program, contact Julota to see how their software platforms will enhance your data collection, team communication, and fleet coordination.