Aetna sends free mobile medical alerts and offers e-prescribing services to its Florida network doctors to better help coordinate health care. The insurance carrier has not yet said if it will expand the service nationwide, but it may do so if the Florida doctors embrace the new alert system.
Aetna said the services allow doctors to instantly access medical literature, as well as clinical and patient information from Aetna’s claims department, even while the doctors are with their patients. This will allow them to identify safety issues, talk with patients about missed tests or checkups and discuss health management programs.
The messaging service will also allow doctors to simplify and expedite prescription orders, so medications can be ready at the pharmacy immediately following their appointments.
“Access to patient and clinical information is critical for doctors to deliver high-quality, effective care,” said Bob Kropp, M.D., regional medical director for Aetna. “That’s why we’re putting integrated information into doctors’ hands when it’s most effective — when the doctor is in the exam room with the patient.”
Aetna’s initiative is part of a larger movement to integrate mobile technology in clinics, hospitals and other health care settings. According to a study by Manhattan Research, 81 percent of all doctors will have adopted smartphones by 2012, and about half of them will use their devices to support everyday tasks in addition to coordinating patient care.
Already, more than one-third of all doctors surveyed nationwide are using smartphones to help with daily care, so Aetna network physicians are sure to welcome the new program.
The new Aetna programs should also help meet some of the growing demand for medical apps. Doctors aren’t only storing health records, but use the devices to help educate their patients. The Aetna program will help them do that even more, by giving them quick and easy access to medical information specific to each patient’s situation.
Many doctors also take advantage of the U.S. government’s “Meaningful Use”program, which allows doctors to claim Medicare and Medicaid expenses when they buy iPads and other tablets to control their paper records.
With the demand for apps growing, Aetna most likely won’t be the only insurance company to offer mobile services to network doctors. Insurance companies could also benefit by being able to access an instant record of patient care, which could help eliminate massive amounts of paperwork, and the efficiency of medical alerts could help to better coordinate and control costs of patient care.