On Jan. 29 at the Toronto Mobile Healthcare Summit, John Mattison and Edward Brown introduced attendees to the idea that we are living through a revolution in the way we take care of people. Healthcare is moving away from hospitals and out-patient specialist clinics and, increasingly, is happening in the home and community. Technology is a key ingredient of these changes.

A pair of presentations at #MHC14 underscored the importance of technology in making this revolution possible. Julia Clarke, CEO of Bristol Community Health, and Karen Kelly, of TotalMobile, spoke about their collaboration in bringing health record management technology to a workforce composed mainly of experienced community nurses. Sharon Baker and Dave McLelland, of Ontario Association of Community Care Access Centres, and Donald Stokes, of Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre, gave a similar presentation from an Ontario point of view.

In Bristol, a five-month pilot project using a TotalMobile tablet-based solution, involving three of the group’s eleven community nursing teams, demonstrated measurable benefits: nurses were about fifty per cent more confident doing their work and managing their caseloads; and one hundred per cent of patients reported a feeling of better communication. Nurses’ working practices quickly changed in ways that both made patient data more secure and saved time.

In Ontario, the first trial of mobile care-provider tech was run in a hospital setting, with caregivers taking tablets to bedside. Currently, about twenty per cent of Mississauga/Halton community care providers are taking tablets with them into homes. Users are excited about the changes, and the expectation is that we will achieve the same sorts of advantages as were reported in the UK.

Collaboration and education are keys to a changing model of care that will be required to deal with an aging population and the needs of both formal and informal caregivers. Our panelists tell us mHealth solutions are crucial to the changes that are coming, and offer a great opportunity to help people age safely at home, while preserving our health care system.

But we are only part way into our move from eHealth to mHealth solutions in the home and community. The tech exists, says Dave McLelland. “We just need the will to get it done.”

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