Miami Children's CIO Ed Martinez: Telehealth, smartphones vital to patient engagement

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Miami Children's Hospital Senior Vice President and CIO Ed Martinez believes that much of the future of patient care is tied to an ability to reach patients through telehealth and mobile solutions. He was named the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' Innovator of the Year in 2012 for leading the development of an eHealth initiative that sought to boost patient engagement while simultaneously improving workflow processes, all of which was part of a larger effort to serve underserved communities.

"We're able to provide telemedicine technologies fronted with engagement and wellness software, which allow for a doctor away from the office," Martinez (pictured) told FierceHealthIT at last week's Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in New Orleans. "That's where I think a lot of care is going."

Martinez also elaborated on the importance of patient engagement, and talked about some of the challenges his facility faced in implementing new technologies.

FHIT: Describe how you are engaging your patients and what their response has been.

Martinez: The reality is, everyone carries a smartphone, and smartphones are the future. We've been focused on eHealth mobility solutions. We have a suite of applications and we're continuing to deploy more applications. We're now also starting to embed that into a framework of applications that tie back to our electronic medical record.

I've received very positive feedback from the patients, as well as some employees, which routinely you would think would be a point of pushback. Now, [our employees] are doing less paperwork and focusing more on patients.

For example, one of the things we strive for is making sure that patients have all of their documentation before they get to the hospital or clinic. Yes, we can do that on our patient portal, but patients now want to do it on their mobile devices. Anything that engages them so that by the time they get to their physician encounter, all that's left to do is see the doctor. This is not rocket science. It's being done in every other industry in the world. It's only innovative in healthcare because no one's ever used it in healthcare. It really just boils down to changing and adapting workflows.