Apr 052012

Radhika Narayanan a new recruit to the HANDI community shares his thoughts with us. We welcome stimulating pieces like this for publication please email us info@handihealth.org if you would like to submit something.

Core Technology Enablers’: New Horizons in Health Informatics

The adoption of Information technology and communication has proven to be a breakthrough to solve current and expected future challenges in healthcare. This is apparently visible with the ‘m-health’ or the mobile technology which is perhaps the only technology being readily accepted by the healthcare professionals and thus turning out to be a great source of user empowerment. The Apps phenomenon is steadily creeping into and across all verticals including healthcare being one of the prominent sectors.

Mobile apps have a vital role to play in healthcare enabling efficient interaction between the physicians and patients and thus transforming the way diseases are diagnosed, monitored and treated. Thus mobile devices such as mobile phones, Patient Monitoring devices, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and other wireless devices have been used by Health professionals to extract information on drugs, drug-drug interactions and relevant reference materials. This has led to development of efficient treatment plan for the patients, the key factor being the availability of health information data all round the clock. This is possible as a result of the use of core utilities of these devices such as  voice and short messaging service (SMS)as well as more complex functionalities and applications including general packet radio service (GPRS), third and fourth generation mobile telecommunications (3G and 4G systems), global positioning system (GPS) and Bluetooth technology.

Besides the sleek and slender looks of Healthcare Apps, it becomes equally essential to abide the security and privacy concerns daunting healthcare. High level of architecture is the need of the hour to solve the problems around security and privacy concerns. There is room for improvement in this area and any advances in this could be very advantages for encouraging the use of Healthcare apps.

The primary business of any healthcare industry is the compilation of information across various systems; these also include compilation of patient information. To perform this compilation in an error-prone manner it is very essential to have a robust technology in place. Perhaps Modular architectures open APIs and App Orchestrations could help to achieve the same. It can also be accomplished through the provision of an open platform with interfaces to third party applications. This approach could help in development of efficient Healthcare Apps which would meet expectations of any large healthcare organisation.

Simultaneously with the native medical apps revolution the presence of web apps have been equally predominant in healthcare, with ‘Web 2.0’ being one of the classic examples. So the question here is Do we envisage the co-existence of both native medical apps and web apps? What could be the plausible shortcomings in both these Apps?  Is there any probability for the companies to evolve their platforms and APIs to compete with the browser standards?

The growing adaption of medical apps provides a myriad of opportunities in efficient healthcare delivery. The evolvement of medical technology has led to availability of large number of new products.  However it is also equally important to address issues on patient safety and data confidentially which is the primary concern for physicians.

Can we envisage a bright future for the Healthcare Apps with involvement of our developmental strategies?

About the Author - Radhika Narayanan

A highly self-motivated and ambitious professional with considerable experience as a Business Analyst in the life sciences and health care sectors. Areas of interest include Health Informatics research with special focus on Hospital information Management Systems and Telehealth. Currently student of elearning- Health Informatics, at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd).

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Apr 022012

Its just over two weeks since we first widely publicised HANDI on the 13th March. We have had a very encouraging response. HANDI Health is now registered as a Community Interest Company and plans for our launch workshops are advancing with booking now open for the first event in Newcastle on 9 May Click Here to Book you place

The many discussion we have had has helped us refine our thinking about what HANDI is about and I would like to share our thoughts with you and ask for you comments?

HANDI is not just about mobile

While the app paradigm comes from the world of mobile phones. It has much greater applicability. The key thing about the app paradigm  is that it allows useful applications to be developed and deployed at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time of traditional software applications. Apps are definitively connected things but they can potentially run on any and all devices from mobile phones to digital TVs, including traditional PCs. They can be mobile when they need to be, but this is almost coincidental to what makes them special.

See "Forget the 'M' " and "What's an App" for further thoughts on this

HANDI will not be producing apps itself

Apart from possibly apps about apps, HANDI has no plans to produce apps  itself. What HANDI wants to do is encourage and facilitate other to do so.  We hope HANDI will make it easier and cheaper for others to produce good quality apps thus increasing the return on investment (commercial or social) for app developers. We plan to do this by helping app developers find information, tools, services and partners that will  facilitate the development and deployment of their apps and help them avoid having to re-solve problems that others have already solved.

HANDI will not be building a platform for apps or promoting particular standards

Fully delivering the HANDI vision requires technical infrastructure, services and standards to support the orchestration of apps and the interoperability between apps; between apps and back-end services; and between apps and existing systems. There are many existing initiatives both globally and in the UK which address aspects of these challenges. Members of the HANDI community include people actively engaged in many of these initiatives and others with specialist expertise but a more independent perspective. HANDI want increase awareness in the HANDI community of what's available and to encourage and facilitate people to use those things that they think might be useful to them while at the same time encouraging new developments to fulfil unmet needs. We intend to do this through a programme of education but also by practical action to get APIs, services and infrastructure opened up for use by the HANDI community, both experimentally and for production use.

More on this soon.