Learn how Mobile Is Transforming Healthcare

By CIOReview | Wednesday, July 6, 2016

“Wherever there is a mobile signal, there is the capability for delivering better healthcare.”

Imagine a future replicating the fatal West African Ebola virus epidemic of 2013. But this time—as the virus re-emerges—health agencies have mobile data records to track all the people in hot-zones of the disease, and isolate those at risk. Screeners at hospitals and airports have hand-held devices linked to the smartphones, capable of detecting the virus in a drop of blood, within minutes. Such technologies—quickly distinguishing the affected and the unaffected—will assist healthcare industries to crush the outbreak of such epidemics before it takes off.

A future like this is just around the corner. Thanks to the mobile technologies and their accelerating pace of evolution.

With the widespread adoption of smartphones, mobile health technology (also mHealth), has experienced incredible growth in the last ten years. mHealth applications have penetrated potentially in markets of developed countries and have boots on the ground in developing countries too—carving a way out to stay connected and be more efficient in their daily chores. For e.g. , in some cases, patients after leaving the hospital with a stack of papers have a very little memory of what they’re supposed to do when they reach home. Imagine the easiness if you were handed with all the medical reports you need for a safe and healthy recovery—with a single app. With this, you could also run to the most called for tasks and the one or two items important to you—the app would mind the rest.

However, many physicians, despite these technological progressions, experience backlash while being introduced to these advancements. Adapting to new tools and insurance company’s policy, they find themselves in a dilemma of ‘how to bill for these new services?’ More importantly, various healthcare apps are supposed to be backed by scientific data else, inadequate or incorrect health information could jeopardize some of the clients, may be the physician’s profession too.

So, how do we conclude that mHealth can be the only foremost preferred solution to address the existing and arising health issues effectively in the present world?

•    Improved access to care:

Healthcare is already a response-based industry, with the vast majority of patient’s care administered after something goes wrong. Instead of people waiting for weeks or months to get an appointment, mHealth can support the wide adoption of technologies to enable doctors remotely monitor, connect, and interact with hundreds and thousands of patients.

For example, patient monitoring and self-tracking via smartphone may help doctors catch early signs of disease in patients. There already are various mobile app platforms, which collects active data (patient-reported), and passive data (who you interacted with through your phone and how far have you traveled during the day), right from a smartphone. This data reaches to health care (authorized) providers and doctors via a web dashboard, who can use it to manage hundreds of patients efficiently. Tracking patient’s behavioral data assist doctors better understand their health, provide improved diagnoses, and be alerted to a symptom of pending health issues. Importantly, the patient will be in his or her home most of the times.

According to a recent survey by HIMSS in 2016, 52 percent of hospitals currently using three or more connected health technologies. Faster communication and improved collaboration seem to be the only scalable, near-term solution for clinicians and physicians. It empowers them to improve the quality of care they provide by enabling them to spend less time in finding medical information, devices, and team members.

•    New provider business models:

Today’s healthcare services and business models are ill-suited to a system dominated by an influx of patient data. New opportunities for healthcare professionals will be created by the explosion of inbound data from sensors and devices.

Conceive of a world where these types of tremendous remote patient examination apps, sensors, and tools are available to everyone, everywhere—to patients and parents, the young and the old, at home and on-the-go. Now mobile tools would passively collect data about patients with little or no active involvement of the patients. Doctors can access through a privately and securely aggregated valuable data from a platform. Physicians will be able to monitor patient’s answer to questions, and invite them for an office visit when necessary. As a result, doctors can make more mindful—and therefore higher quality—decisions as they will have more analyzed data.

A doctor’s time is more and more wanting and dear. New capabilities added with the massive growth in digital health apps is eliminating the requirement for patients and doctors to coexist. Patients—living in rural areas or otherwise having limited access to doctors—will be able to visit virtually with primary care clinicians, physicians or specialists in the next major city or a half a world away.

•    Improved patient engagement:

We, often, come across various aspects of healthcare discouragement when it involves complications like long queues, lack of transparency of cost, and complexity in quality treatment. Why patients should be waiting painstakingly in the physician’s office when they could be updated via text that their physician is running late. Healthcare apps will notify you when you are running low on pills. It will automatically ask whether you want to pick-up your prescription from the nearest medical store, or place the prescription for your selected delivery option and charge accordingly from your HSA (Health Saving Account).

Non-adherence to medication is yet another challenging issue that technology companies are dealing to address. It’s really tough and impractical for doctors to follow up and ensure that they take medications as prescribed. To battle this problem, digital health companies have FDA approval to manufacture pills with edible electronic sensors. Sensors transmit data to an online app, and those data can be used by doctors to keep track on patient’s medication compliance. In similar scenarios, a medication reminder app that keeps the track of pills you took and pills remaining becomes your company.

Digital and interactive healthcare transformations have grabbed the attention of leading venture capitalists and incubators—combination of which will back new promising ideas in mHealth industry. Our path to avoid a second rate health care system should opt for real-time technology so that more people can receive easier, faster, and inexpensive care. The transformation will modernize the entire healthcare industry, allowing doctors to deliver higher quality care—more personalized, efficient, and cost-effective—anytime, anywhere.