Among all the different medical specialties now being practiced, you could make the case that psychiatry stands to be most affected by advancements in mobile technology. Psychiatry is not necessarily affected by mobility in how patients are treated but, rather, in how patients use that technology to manage their own care.
Furthering the cause of mobility is the knowledge that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is advocating for greater patient access to personal and clinical data. At a recent conference, CMS administrator Seema Verma told attendees that “patients need to be able to control their information and know that it is secure and private.” She went on to explain that access to information will help patients better understand their own health and the care they are seeking.
It is clear that the CMS believes mobile technology is a crucial tool in giving patients complete and unfettered access to their data. Assuming the government pushes forward with plans they have already laid on the table, there are three ways psychiatry will be impacted:
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1. Managing Appointments and Medications
There is a push on to develop mobile apps applicable to all kinds of patients, but particularly psychiatry patients. Psychiatry is somewhat unique in that a lot of patients refuse to see anyone other than a doctor they have come to know and trust. They are wary of locum psychiatrists; they are wary of switching to a new doctor if a current doctor retires or moves away.
Having a mobile app would make it easier for psychiatric patients to manage their own care more easily. Though it would not solve the problem of patients not wanting to see other doctors, it would make it possible for them to schedule their own appointments and manage their medications more easily. Does a prescription need to be renewed? Just open the app and renew it. Need an appointment for Monday? Schedule the appointment Friday evening after the office is closed.
2. Switching Doctors or Insurance Plans
Another area of concern is access to data when switching doctors or insurance plans. Psychiatric patients are understandably nervous when switching; the process can be more trying when information is limited. The CMS proposes mobile technology that allows patients to take their data with them wherever they go.
With a mobile app, patients would not have to call former doctors to get access to records. They would not have to deal with insurance companies to get information for new plans. Everything they need would be at their fingertips, easily accessible for dealing with the new doctor or insurance plans.
3. Tracking Clinical Records
Most importantly, mobile technology could make it easier for psychiatric patients to both contribute to and track their own clinical records. One example would be a wearable device that collects patient data and automatically sends it to a remote database where clinical records are stored.
Psychiatrists could keep pace with how their patients are doing on a day-by-day basis, all without having to see or speak with the patient. This could make for better care between appointments. Likewise, patients could keep track of their own clinical data to better manage whatever self-care strategies they are employing.
It is clear that the CMS wants to push the technology envelope further. They want the medical profession, in general, to start getting on board with mobile technology in order to improve patient outcomes. Where psychiatry jobs are concerned, mobility looks like it could be a game-changer. Mobile technology could make psychiatry more engaging to the very patients it serves.