But if healthcare organizations want to get ahead of the mobile healthcare phenomenon, it’s more than time for them to put leaders in place who sleep, eat and breathe mobile care delivery.

If healthcare organizations want to get ahead of the mobile healthcare phenomenon, it’s more than time for them to put leaders in place who sleep, eat and breathe mobile care delivery.

I’m talking about putting someone in the C-suite whose job it is to keep up with the astonishing rate of change in mobile health, grab ahold of technologies and software that bring care to the next level, and turn them into an engine for care improvement.

Creating a “chief mobile healthcare officer” slot is as important to the future of healthcare delivery as chief medical information officers are to today’s digital healthcare. In fact, I’d argue that healthcare organizations that don’t do this may lose the battle to transform, disrupt and right-size care over the next five to 10 years.

Why do you need a CMHO?

Why does a healthcare organization need a chief mobile healthcare officer? Consider the following:

  • Technologies like Apple’s HealthKit are quickly turning wearables data into a source of actionable insight for clinicians. However, HealthKit — and competing platforms developed by powerhouse competitors like Qualcomm — are still largely solutions looking for a problem. Who will know enough to decide what specs define the next-generation wearable data strategy?
  • Telemedicine has already become a viable means of delivering care, but it’s far from clear what a hospital or practice’s tele-strategy should be. And figuring this out isn’t just a matter of determining market demand or supporting the right technology. Determining how to play telemedicine, and harmonizing it with the delivery of traditional care, calls for a mature and nuanced view of the entire spectrum of digital health.
  • Moving ahead an organization’s mobile strategy involves working not only with established vendors like Apple, but also making some significant bets on startups whose dazzling ideas aren’t yet backed up by a solid track record.  If no one in your organization has both the skills and experience to make these bets, and the authority to pull the trigger, how will you ever make the transition to mobile care?
  • Managing the transition to a mobile-driven healthcare enterprise require will require more patient-facing development than virtually any IT job in the house — after all, in no other aspect of HIT is the patient controlling and carrying around the device healthcare providers want to access. Empowering a top leader to make these decisions makes it far more likely that this aspect of the mobile healthcare transformation doesn’t get neglected.

All told, I think it’s pretty clear that hospitals and practices that want to make a credible mobile play going forward — something they’d be foolish to neglect — they’ll need to put a very senior pro in charge of making it happen. Can anyone make a strong case to the contrary? Have at it, folks.

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Anne Zieger is CEO of Zieger Healthcare Communications, an independent research and content development firm based in northern Virginia. She can be reached at anne@ziegerhealthcare.com or @ziegerhealth on Twitter.