There has been a mobile phone revolution during the past decade. Believe it or not, the total number of mobile phone subscriptions has surpassed the world population. Data shows that there are over 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions around the world today. This new reality comes forth as an incredible opportunity for the healthcare industry.
The relationship of mobile phones with the people around world can contribute vastly to the betterment of global health. More people are now developing diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Due to the rise of illnesses, many people around the world are in need of routine checkups and daily medication. However, forgetting to keep tabs on health conditions and missing out on your medication schedule is not uncommon.
For certain people that have critical illnesses, forgetting their medications can be life threatening. This is where mobiles can play a critical role, not only by reminding patients about their timely medication course, but also being an essential tool for remote checkups, diagnosis, health monitoring and more.
What is mHealth?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mobile health or mHealth refers to the utilization of mobile devices to support the procedures regarding medicine and public health. These devices include smart phones, tablets, laptops, cell phones and other connectivity devices.
mHealth is a part of E-health or electronic health. Electronic health pertains to the electronic process and communications that aid healthcare, and more importantly facilitate physicians to optimize their medical practice. So how does mHealth exactly help? According to the World Health Organization, mobile health fulfills six initiatives.
1. Provides fast communication between individuals and healthcare services
This initiative includes telephone lines, emergency toll-free numbers, and advice lines. This is huge for countries that do not have a toll-free number for medical emergencies. Equipped with mHealth options and features, individuals can have authentic medical assistance at only a touch of a button.
2. Communication between healthcare services and people
Public service announcements, text messages, medical reminders can be critical, especially in the face of a medical outbreak. Thanks to mHealth applications and services, healthcare departments can encourage people to take the right medical measures and spread awareness over misconceptions.
Getting professional and expert consultation can be difficult to attain, especially for healthcare workers working in remote areas. This is mostly because of the unavailability of proper healthcare infrastructure. mHealth helps patients and healthcare workers acquire high-end consultancy without having to travel or spend too much money.
4. Communication within agencies for emergency response
In the face of a medical outbreak, agencies and first responders need to work in an organized manner to mitigate harm and offer efficient treatment. Organized action and response are impossible without sound communication. mHealth services can improve communication between agencies in the unwanted and sudden occurrence of health crises.
5. Monitoring and Surveillance
Today, many health monitoring applications keep you updated about your health conditions and fitness levels. For example, devices such as a smartwatches and smartphones come with health-tracking sensors. These sensors can precisely monitor your heart rate, sleep quality, blood oxygen levels, calories, and other health conditions.
By doing so, the device warns you of any inconsistencies inside your body that you need to address. This feature allows users to address health concerns and treat them before they get worse. Social media applications such as Facebook and Instagram also allow users to survey viruses spread across the nation.
6. Information Access for Healthcare Professionals
This involves using electronic patient records. The advancements in interoperable applications that record patient data can revolutionize the healthcare industry. Mobile applications can store, update, and read patient data more effortlessly, enabling healthcare professionals and physicians to offer better treatment.
Better and more streamlined access to patient data will also rid patients of redundant hospital visits and save them from excessive blood testing. It can also enhance the experience of remote medical checkups and treatment. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, optimizing data access, control and prioritizing telemedicine services will be instrumental for prevention.
The Scope of Digital Healthcare and mHealth Applications
Electronic health, mobile health, and telemedicine all fall under the umbrella of digital healthcare. When you refer to digital health care, you need to consider a range of technologies. There is a wide range of technologies that encompass digital health care. These technologies include all the information systems that regulate clinical records, patient data, and health records.
Additionally, it also involves sensors, robotics, and development of mHealth applications. mHealth apps are essential because they deliver various applications and online services to physicians and patients. These applications are essentially a digital interface that offers numerous medical assistance for both patients and physicians.
Over the years, the versatility and scale of mobile health applications have led to significant innovations and improvements in healthcare. By offering implantable devices to smart sensors that monitor vital signs, mobile technology has maximized the quality of life for millions of people around the world. The advent of mobility and telemedicine is a game-changer for the healthcare industry.
Patient experience and treatment efficiency are two of the most important areas in healthcare that require urgent attention. A boost in speed and efficiency alone can play an integral role in improving patient experience. With this in mind, healthcare facilities and professionals are turning to technology to improve their quality of care.
Streamlining operations, reducing costs, and improving productivity are also areas in healthcare that relevant mobile applications can address. Mobile health applications can help customize solutions for hospitals, patients, and practitioners. They can offer solutions that integrate new-age technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of things, medical imaging, and more.
Telemedicine’s intersection with Mobile Health Apps and Wearable Tech
Much like many aspects of our lives, the delivery of medicine has evolved throughout the years. Today, most patients do not need to travel all the way to the doctor’s office to receive medical care. The proliferation of telemedicine has made the delivery of medical assistance accessible to patients who are unable and unwilling to travel to the physician’s office.
Physicians and their patients are now using mobile health applications and wearable health tracking devices for treatment. These applications can collect patient data and transmit it to healthcare professionals safely and securely.
Upon receiving the updated patient data, a physician can interpret and analyze the real-time data and provide the patients with a more precise examination and treatment in their telemedicine appointment. In other words, physicians can enhance their telemedicine practice by utilizing the data generated by mobile health apps and wearable tech devices.
mHealth Apps and Tools
mHealth tools have expanded from the basic pager, phone calls, video calls, tablet, email, and others to more sophisticated forms, such as short message services. Advanced mobile health also includes physiological sensors and electronic pillboxes.
With the growing list of mobile health applications, one must understand how consumers use the devices and leverage them for care coordination activities. Studies found that consumers use mobile phones for healthcare in different ways. One of the most common ways is to access search engines to understand symptoms and research treatments.
The second common use is its ability to track symptoms and manage conditions, and the third common use has to do with communication with the healthcare professional. People that use medical health tools are more engaged in health and are more proactive about their treatments and conditions.
Examples of mHealth Applications
There are over 300,000 mobile health apps currently operating in the word, with up to 3.2 billion downloads. However, you can expect more apps to emerge in the coming years because of their high-demand.
Fitness and Nutrition Applications
Applications that support wellness and fitness help patients track their nutrition and exercise. Some examples of this are apps like myfitnesspal, and Mapmyfitness. My Fitness Pal is a food journal. Users can use this application to input what they are eating and how much they are eating.
In other words, they can record their caloric intake or track down micronutrient intake. This application is also very easy to use and offers a database where you can type in all that you are eating and get an accurate amount of calories and nutrients that you are consuming in each serving.
Diabetes Tracking Apps
For diabetes, patients can use many interesting applications available on the market. Physicians will also recommend these applications to the patients. The best ones are also free to download, making them an ideal option. MySugr is a common and popular application for diabetes, along with Diabetes: M, and Glucose Buddy.
These are some of the applications that doctors will commonly recommend to diabetic patients. When using these apps, the patients can log in and enter their blood glucose readings on the app, along with other information such as height, weight, and more. The applications will then evaluate and calculate the data and monitor their blood sugar levels.
Additionally, patients can also enter their lab reports such as the triglycerides and lipid concentration. By doing so, the physicians can log the patient’s blood sugar levels. This is very important for diabetic patients because they need to adjust their insulin intake according to their blood sugar levels.
Overall, these mobile health applications help patients monitor their blood sugar and allow healthcare professionals to track their patient’s sugar trends. Some applications also give users nutrition suggestions and recipes if they sign up for the subscription packages. They also connect people with diabetes with a community of people that suffer from the same disease.
This is critical for moral support and helps patients overcome any depression that comes with the disease. These apps motivate patients by exposing them to the personal blogs of other patients in which people share success stories of how they controlled their blood sugar levels. Some also follow the diabetic self education and management guidelines which were proposed by the American Diabetes Association.
High Blood Pressure Applications
There are a number of high blood pressure applications. Most of them usually track your blood pressure over a specific period. They collect blood pressure data with the help of sensors and graph it all together in the form of a table or a chart. Examples of blood pressure applications include Instant Heart Rate, Blood Pressure Monitor, and more.
This allows an easy layout of the user’s healthcare data that healthcare professionals can analyze and study in a better way. Ultimately, these applications have logs that track high blood pressure. Some of them also come with paid features that track blood types and triglycerides.
Health Management Applications – ADA
ADA is an application that over a hundred doctors and scientists helped create. The aim for developing this mobile health application was to provide patients with an easy way to seek professional help and monitor their symptoms. It unveils the potential diagnosis to users, making it incredibly handy.
Even though this application does not provide solutions to your symptoms, it can still allow patients to check whether their condition is serious. This app makes it easier for potential patients to decide whether they need to go to a healthcare practitioner for their symptoms.
The app requires users to fill out a questionnaire powered by AI technology so that the algorithm can use previous data to provide the most likely causes. These causes can involve a list of diseases or risk factors that may be causing the symptoms. There are also other applications that use AI to provide health management.
This application is a breakthrough in mHealth tech since it showcases the involvement of doctors into the digital health realm. It also displays the emergence of artificial intelligence in the world of healthcare under a medical and scientific spectrum.
Reflections Over The mHealth App Revolution
The medical health applications and their facilitation for healthcare professionals have shown that Telehealth is possible and can be done safely and at a global scale. Much of the concerns of healthcare professionals have been overcome, and most patients have had positive experiences.
As time progresses, professionals will be able to improve the digital health situation. There is no denying that many people that have utilized online consultation have found it incredibly convenient and efficient. There is a high likelihood that patients will come out of lockdowns demanding their healthcare physicians to continue telemedicine treatments.
How Are mHealth Apps Efficient?
First and foremost, some of the mobile health applications comply with the regulatory framework of the US and abide by medical policies such as HIPAA, which is standardized to safeguard patients. Healthcare systems can connect a network of patients and manage all of their in-patient, outpatient, post-discharge, and community outreach communications using a single application.
They also help healthcare organizations track the time of patients and physicians at various locations. Not only that, they also enhance the communication between the patient and physician through an easy-access interface. Communication breakdowns can have drastic effects in the healthcare system and mHealth apps can come in quite handy in such instances.
A highly reputable research suggests that about 80 percent of serious medical errors and mistakes are due to poor communication between healthcare providers. Healthcare operations can be hindered without an application or a network that enables rapid connectivity and efficient remote communications.
Hindrance in communication will also lead to reduced patent satisfaction, quality of care, and cost-efficiency. In any industry, communication is a challenge, and it is the bond that holds together a workflow. mHealth applications improve clinical workflows by optimizing patients in more ways than one.
The data collection features of the mHealth applications can be instrumental for healthcare facilities and organizations. It can pave the way for an interoperable work process that allows healthcare systems to optimize patient care and enable physicians to work more effectively.
These applications also help with patient safety. Since they track and offer real-time analysis, patients can always keep a check on their health at all times. These features also initiate alarms and warning signs that warn patients about their deteriorating health.
The first concern for mHealth applications is security. You want your information to be secure, especially if that information is personal. Another concern includes usability, as many application developers are making applications that are not user-friendly for physicians and patients.
Not to mention, some of the older patients cannot comply with computer programs. More current problems involve hospital systems and their inability to read or interpret data from mobile devices.
Technology is seeping into every aspect of our lives and making it easier. mHealth apps are an example of how advancements in technology will shape the framework of healthcare in the future. Mobile phones are vastly being used for medical purposes, and health apps can potentially dominate the healthcare industry in the future, giving it a big boost.