Healthcare programs that utilize telehealth services and mHealth apps can help improve patient care quality, health outcomes, patient communication, and chronic care efforts, according to results from several recent studies.
Value-based care and preventive health programs have become an increasing focus for the healthcare industry as the costs of chronic disease and conditions in America have risen. The belief is that preventive measures, rather than treatment, could help better manage chronic care costs and population health if such initiatives are well supported.
Health technology, such as telehealth services and mHealth apps, is one source of support that could be truly beneficial to not only preventive health programs, but also provider efforts to improve patient communication and chronic care in general. There have been several recent programs that incorporated such digital health tools with the goal of improving health outcomes, with encouraging results.
For instance, an mHealth study by Mount Sinai Hospital resulted in a 42-percent reduction of symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder through use of a mobile health app over the course of a six-week trial.
In another study, participants in a weight loss program were reported to have achieved greater success with the help of telehealth services and use of mHealth apps on mobile devices than another group enrolled in the same program who did not have access to the same digital health tools. The group with access to telehealth services and mHealth apps lost an average of 13 pounds total more than the control group, for a 17 percent difference in decrease in body fat percentage.
The study was a combined effort between researchers at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Saint Mary, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and InHealth Medical Services.
They concluded that the use of telehealth services and mHealth apps lent weight loss program participants additional support, even outside of a provider’s office. By having health information readily available through mHealth on mobile devices, participants were able to efficiently self-monitor, track goals, and communicate when needed.
This is a potentially major health breakthrough, considering that more than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are classified as obese, contributing annually to hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs and leading to increased diagnoses of chronic conditions.
A research team from UCSF Medical School looking into the benefits of mHealth and telehealth communication with patients for weight loss and heart health goals found similar results. “Mobile phone app-based health coaching interventions can be an acceptable and effective means to promote weight loss and improve blood pressure management in overweight or obese individuals. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, digital health coaching may be an innovative solution to decreasing barriers of access to much-needed weight management interventions for obesity.”
The benefits of mHealth and telehealth surpass just patients with weight loss concerns.
Telehealth services and mHealth apps offer healthcare providers the opportunity to leverage advancements in technology to reach all patients beyond an onsite setting, whether that’s in their home, office, or elsewhere. They expand the ability of providers to conduct remote patient monitoring and remove limitations on communication that made it difficult to meet patient care management needs.
For patients with chronic conditions who might frequent the doctor’s office or hospitals more often, telehealth services and mHealth apps could make an even larger difference in getting and staying healthy.
A 2017 survey by West Corporation found that:
- 91 percent of people with a chronic condition need care management help
- 70 percent of patients want doctors to check in on them regularly
- One in three patients want a personalized care plan
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