Healthcare is in the midst of a most fundamental transformation, with mobile technologies invading the scene. 83% of clinicians already confirm usage of mobile technologies to provide patient care. Venture capitalists are turning away from social networks and gaming to invest heavily in digital health, which offers an estimated $60 billion in market opportunities. The time has come to jump on the mHealth bandwagon. Do it wisely. Here are some of the most important facts that will help you make weighted, conscious mHealth decisions.
What are the benefits of mobile technology in healthcare?
Today, there are about 100,000 mobile health apps
in leading stores, with more than 4 million daily downloads. All of them serve three different broad areas of usage: for personal fitness and well-being, for clinical tools and care-enhancement, as well as for health research. 85% of apps are for wellness, developed for primary usage by the consumer or patient, while the remaining 15% are clinical, used by physicians.
Consumer wellness apps help control and modify the following daily routines:
- physical fitness/training,
- self-measurement (ex. pregnancy trackers),
- nutrition control,
- self-testing (including sensor triggering for heart rate monitoring).
Health data is not only measured, but also tailored according to a patient's mobile history, geo-location or current behavior patterns. Wearable technologies (wrist band, glasses or even jewellery) add up to the experience by helping diagnose diseases based on user’s daily activities. This is only the beginning, as new areas of tech focus are emerging, including augmented sensory perception and bio-embedded sensors development.
Combined, healthcare and mobile technologies literally empower people to take a proactive stand in monitoring their health.
As for the second category, clinical and care enhancement, specialists outline 3 main areas of impact:
- Medication compliance. Mobile technology helps patients follow medication orders. It can also predict when a prescription runs out and remind the patient to get a timely refill, as well as provide regular dosage reminders and delayed reminders.
- Medication accuracy. Mobile apps are designed to help double-check important details and increase patient’s safety, in an environment where clinical instructions and prescriptions add up to a lot of paperwork.
- Access to health information. Mobile health technologies helps patients view, download, and share their health information electronically.
For health research side of the industry, mobile tech brings in the ability to track health behaviors over huge time and space laps. With the help of big data technologies, federal agencies and healthcare organizations are enabled to cross-reference data and build a database of trends that would improve medical practice.
As we see, the benefits across various domains are multiple. However, as any innovation, mHealth has its own red flags.
What are the potential risks of mobile technology in healthcare?
The main concern for both healthcare professionals and patients is data security. Health organizations are obliged to keep protected patient information (PHI) safe in a mobile environment. One challenge for health care systems is the so-called BYOD, “bring your own device”, which means employees are using personal mobile devices at work. As a matter of fact, almost 89% of U.S. healthcare professionals use their personal mobile devices for work. But when it comes to security, 41% of healthcare employees do not protect their smartphones with a password, and 53% access unsecured wireless networks.
Apps, both free and paid, can send unencrypted data to advertisers and third-party data analytics firms. In fact, around 50% of mobile applications for healthcare industry fail to use encryption technology to protect data during transmission and storage of sensitive information, have vague or non-existent privacy policies, and do not comply with HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Healthcare apps and your business
There is no going backwards with technology revolution. Now that you are aware of the advantages of mobile technologies in healthcare, you might be considering integrating them into your own medical business. There’s a big challenge to remain attractive to clients by keeping up with modern technologies and still providing 100% safe and reliable services. How to make the right decision and choose a useful and safe mHealth app to enhance daily experiences of both your medical workers and patients?
There are two options available: you can either choose from one of existing applications or to develop
a customized one. In first-case scenario, you should look for an app that operates within your niche and offers features similar to the services you render. Existing mHealth apps can transform smartphones into medical instruments that gather and analyze blood test results, glucose readings, medical images, enable physicians and patients to conduct remote consultations, if necessary, and much more. Second-case scenario allows you to tailor an application precisely to the specifics of your business by cooperating with one of the professional mobile application development companies. It’s a good choice for those who couldn’t find a good match among existing apps, who are new to mobile technologies in healthcare and are not sure which feature can cater most for their clients’ needs, or who want to win a competitive advantage by optimizing existing healthcare processes, to attract new clients and increase revenues.
In either case, there are important points to keep in mind while making your choice.
First, it’s critical whether an app offers timely access to clinical intelligence. Healthcare specialists can use a mix of applications at any given point in time, depending on specialty or individual preferences. Thus, a good clinical reference app should allow for navigation among multiple programs. The best apps should offer clinicians information with minimal tapping or maneuvering.
All in all, mobile technology is a booming area in healthcare. It opens up a vast array of possibilities, some of which are on the brink of being implemented into life. Mobile technology may increase health information access for patients, improve medication compliance, as well as enhance population health and research capabilities. This is the moment when the future of health care is truly in the palm of our hands.