How Students Study for a Future with mHealth
Telemedicine As doctors and patients grow more inter-connected through secure mobile health technology, it’s incumbent on today’s medical students to be well-versed in this burgeoning field.
Was there any one experience outside of school that made you want to go into the mHealth field?
Michelle Mitcheff: I had experience personally with my health information being incorrect. This made me curious about medical record information and there was a director who encouraged me to pursue an mHealth degree.
Monica Terrazas: I have always been good troubleshooting computer issues and researching solutions. Health and information technology combined together delivers the perfect career path to someone that understands system communication and its many advantages.
“The trust of patients must be taken into consideration as well as the assurance from the providers by taking the necessary steps to safeguard and protect.”
Mobile technology or mHealth offers new opportunities to doctors and patients to stay in communication. I see this field as an opportunity that is currently being utilized today and that will become the norm in future communication advantages, mainly due to the fact that the system is accessible from anywhere and at any time.
What has been the most interesting topic you have studied while diving into mHealth?
MM: The most exciting topic has been interfaces and the convergence of multiple external demands on health care organizations related to quality of care, reimbursement and interoperability.
MT: One of the most fascinating topics to me has been how the transmission allows for the communication to be shared using a secure connection. There are numerous challenges that mHealth faces. The most important is protecting the privacy of patient information.
The trust of patients must be taken into consideration as well as the assurance from the providers by taking the necessary steps to safeguard and protect. Security can be achieved by protecting patients’ information and implementing the CIA: confidentiality, integrity and availability.
How prominent are ethics in your curriculum?
MM: Very prominent.
“Challenges have included the rapid rate of change in health care and needing a much broader understanding of all the forces influencing health care…”
MT: Ethics are very important, because patients trust the fact that the information is not being misused by clinicians or disclosed in an improper manner. People adopting this new trend in communication and accessing medical records can’t feel like their information is not safeguarded by health care organizations or providers.
At Nova Southeastern University's Biomedical Informatics Program, although we do not have a separate ethics course, the components of ethics in health information technology are integrated throughout the curriculum. Every student is also required to complete his or her HIPAA training before they enter the practicum phase—a hands on experience in the real world.
What challenges have you experienced studying mHealth that you may not have if studying traditional health care practices?
MM: Challenges have included the rapid rate of change in health care and needing a much broader understanding of all the forces influencing health care: electronic health records, quality initiatives, reimbursement cuts, vendor relations, lack of collaboration with vendors and the need to keep current with the changes while keeping up with operations.
MT: MHealth is slowly becoming more common since faster mobile devices are becoming less expensive, offering many ways of communication. For health care practices, this new and accessible tool represents not only a way to stay in touch with patients, but also a chance to keep track of their health by means of communicating real-time data through mHealth apps to providers.
MHealth has not been adopted by many, especially by the elderly population. To me, this new trend represents very interesting challenges, due to the fact that this is a new way of communication that perhaps intimidates many—as they may not feel confident that their information is safeguarded and stored securely. In addition, it possesses the challenge of training elderly patients to learn this newer technology, making mHealth a unique topic of study, versus traditional health care practices.