The health care and life sciences industry is recognized as one of the top three fields (along with consumer products and the financial services industry) likely to propel mobile device growth in the next five years.
Mobile technology is being integrated with a raft of devices, sensors, apps, and other programs being developed that target chronic conditions, telemedicine and remote monitoring, patient data capture, electronic records, e-prescribing, and the parallel industries of fitness and wellness.
There are numerous factors driving the growth of mobile health:
- Population aging
- Increasing chronic illness
- Accelerating health costs
- New regulatory reform
- Increased consumer demand for health information and self-care will drive mobile solution growth
Mobile technology (mHealth) has the potential to profoundly reshape the healthcare industry, altering how care is delivered and received. Patients, healthcare workers and their partners in other industries stand to benefit from mobile health-and in many cases are already benefitting.
The idea is that digital technologies, including ubiquitous mobile devices, can play a key role in transforming health care into a more-efficient, patient-centered system of care in which individuals have instant, on-demand access to their medical records and powerful clinical decision support tools that empower them to actively participate in their treatment plans.
Here are four ways that mobile technology in healthcare, also knows as mobile health (mHealth) is benefiting the healthcare industry:
Allowing people to be more proactive in attending to their health and well-being
Healthcare is moving rapidly towards patient-centered care, a model premised upon individuals being active participants in managing in their health care. Consumers’ widespread use of mobile devices makes it easier and faster to access health care and creates opportunities to revolutionize the industry through high-quality and highly personalized care. 64% of healthcare executives say mHealth could dramatically improve outcomes by giving people greater access to medical information (The Economist)
Patient engagement is used to describe patients’ engagement in primary care consultations regarding their own health, care and treatment. Health and wellness apps are offered to members that provide education and self-monitoring; guide members to facilities with appropriate levels of care; use gamification strategies to motivate members; and chronic disease management tools from remote monitoring to connecting select patients with providers via email, text, and video chat.
Improve outcomes and cost by streamlining clinical processes and remote monitoring
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that patients who are more actively involved in their health care experience better health outcomes and incur lower costs. As a result, many public and private health care organizations are employing strategies to better engage patients, such as educating them about their conditions and involving them more fully in making decisions about their care.
Remote monitoring technologies are predicted to save nearly $200 billion, particularly by managing chronic diseases in the U.S. over the next 25 years. Other estimates suggest that remote monitoring can reduce costs for caring for the elderly in rural areas by 25 %.
In addition, enabling data collection and analysis through wireless mobile devices (such has smartphones and tablets) has potential to fewer in-person visits, and thus lowering cost
Make care more accessible to communities that are currently underserved
Advances in mobile technology allow health workers to reach underserved and remote population, which includes the elderly, the chronically ill and the poor. mHealth changes the traditional delivery of healthcare, allowing for continuous, pervasive healthcare anytime, anywhere. With mHealth, providers, caregivers and patients have the opportunity to continuously monitor health conditions and access health information outside of the physician’s office, and outside of the patient’s home
Giving the elderly as an example, a large percentage of older adults are challenged by chronic illnesses, improper medication use, falls and injuries, frailty, and limited access to their personal health information – all of which can contribute to a reduced quality of life. Chronic disease management, medication management, safety monitoring, and improving access to personal health information all provide significant opportunities for the application of mHealth technologies for the older adult population. mHealth technologies can help slow progression of chronic disease and ensure continued recovery after being discharged from an acute care setting; assist with medication adherence by providing medication reminders and alerting caregivers to missed medications; alert caregivers and prompt intervention when a vulnerable older adult is injured or in harm’s way; provide patient and caregiver access to personal health information, and deploying or communicating wellness and preventive care protocols. mHealth offers a broad array of methods to improve the quality of life of older adults.
Facilitate medical innovation by enabling scientists to harness the power of big data on a large scale
mHealth is increasing the flow of information from patient to clinician. Research can be streamlined through virtual mobile research labs and apps that enable data collection, analysis and visulaization through improved connectivity and data transfer. This could benefit the market research and clinical trials industry, which rely solely on data to educate, sell its services and receive marketing approval.
Biggest concern of mHealth is privacy and security
Mobile devices can offer greater convenience and flexibility for both patients and providers, supply tools for better adherence and compliance, enable access to real-time data and monitoring, and facilitate routine monitoring of chronic care management (self-management, clinical care and care coordination). Provided that privacy and security is addressed, mHealth is changing healthcare and could transform it by acting as a conduit to personalized advice, information and treatment