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Mobile technology in health care now the answer instead of the problem

The first “mobile computing device” that I used was a 30-pound IBM “luggable” PC. It cost more than $4,000 and boasted the Intel 8088 microprocessor running at a blazing 4.77 MHz and ran off of two 5 1/4-inch floppy drives. There really wasn’t anything mobile about it, and not much computing was to be had, though it helped get me through college.

Today I am writing this on a 1 GHz dual-core Apple A5 “custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip” (as described by Apple) — an iPad — which costs $500 and weighs only 1.35 lbs.

IT has taken the economy and productivity in most industries to new heights in the past 30 years. Health care has stubbornly stayed on its own course, sometimes fitfully trying to play catch-up. It was only about two years ago that my doctors first started bringing laptops into the exam rooms instead of paper charts.

Now, with mobile technology devices like the iPad, tablet PCs, the iPhone, the Droid phone, BlackBerrys and a host of new remote home monitoring technologies and services, it’s time for health care to make the great — albeit delayed — leap into the Information Age.

I spent this week at the Institute for Health Technology Transformation’s conference in Atlanta, “Health IT in Practice: Strategies for a next generation health care system.” Based on what I saw and discussed with attendees, it seems that health care could now even be in the HOV lane, speeding by other industries.

The requirements of security, privacy, multiplatform capability and usability are pushing health care developers to create truly revolutionary apps for patient care. The difference this time is that these are technology answers to crucial questions being driven by health care reform and other electronic health care mandates, rather than whiz-bang technologies trying to change things.

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