As smartphones and mobile technology become more widely used in healthcare, many are asking the question what is mHealth and how will it impact health as technology continues to develop?
Mobile apps have provided consumers with new levels of control when it comes to interacting with a number of industries, from finance, to retail, to hospitality. This also extends to healthcare.
Use of smartphones, mobile devices, and mobile apps for medical and healthcare purposes is a growing trend, which is also known by the term mHealth.
But what is mHealth really? Use of mobile technology, health apps, and services by patients and providers alike is rapidly increasing. Here are a few examples of benefits of mobile health apps.
1. Tracking Personal Health Data on Smartphones and Health Apps
Many doctors believe in the benefits of mHealth and health apps. For example, 93 percent of physicians think mobile health apps can improve patient health.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has echoed that feeling through a statement on its website: “The FDA encourages the development of mobile medical apps that improve healthcare and provide consumers and healthcare professionals with valuable health information. Mobile applications can help people manage their own health and wellness, promote healthy living, and gain access to useful information when and where they need it.”
And consumers seem to be seeking those apps with healthy living in mind. A NYU Lagone Medical Center survey found that of those who downloaded mobile health apps on a smartphone:
- About 52 percent of users said they downloaded health apps to track physical activity
- 47 percent wanted to track what they ate
- 46 percent said they downloaded health apps to lose weight
- 34 percent said they wanted to use health apps to learn exercises
Those goals are reflected in the top mHealth and health app categories, which are weight loss, exercise and fitness, and women’s health. Health apps on smartphones, mobile devices, wearables, and fitness trackers have become an ideal way for people to benefit from mHealth by collecting personal health data that is easy to understand.
93 percent of physicians think mobile health apps can improve patient health.
Included among the uses of mobile health apps:
- Mobile medical ID information: Document important personal health information for yourself or your family, such as emergency contact info, allergies, medications, and more. This is also a great way for caregivers to stay organized, as 30 percent of mHealth users are caregivers.
- Mobile fitness tracker: Keep track of your fitness routine and find new workout suggestions.
- Heart rate and vitals monitor: Get an idea of your vitals, such as heart rate or sleep patterns, using your smartphone, smartwatch, or other mobile devices.
- Mobile emergency health communication: Certain health apps or mobile features allow you to easily get in touch with the help you need when you’re facing an emergency, such as apps that dial emergency contacts with only one tap.
- Calorie counter and nutrition planner: Monitor what you eat and learn more about your diet with nutrition and diet apps, many of which can offer new healthy recipes.
- Manage healthcare on mobile: Connect with your doctor or insurance provider using mobile. You could even use your smartphone to schedule appointments in some cases.
- Prescription medication reminder: Track the medications you’re supposed to take and set up reminder notifications to ensure you don’t miss your schedule.
2. Connected Care Between Doctor’s Office Visits
If your doctor isn’t currently using mobile to connect with you, they probably will take advantage of mobile technology to better communicate with you in the near future.
What is mHealth from the provider standpoint? More than one in four physicians already uses mobile technology for patient communication. Meanwhile, 31 percent of healthcare organizations currently offer a mobile health app to patients, while 30 percent are developing a mobile health app for patients.
What is mHealth going to look like for the doctor-patient relationship? As the benefits of mHealth become more widely known, healthcare providers are embracing mobile communication even more to improve their relationship with you, the patient. That’s a bonus for patients who consistently cite their desire to have more options for modern communication with healthcare providers.
A 2017 report stated that 35 percent of Americans use an online health portal and 14 percent use email to communicate with a primary care doctor.
Also 72 percent of health-insured Americans think digital communication, like an online portal, video chat, or live text messaging, with a health insurance provider is important.
3. Mobile Healthcare Management for Caregivers and Family
Many people now use smartphones and electronic communication as a way to go “paperless,” receiving bills, statements, and other important documents through apps or email.
What is mHealth going to bring in the future? One possibility is more ways to improve electronic health records (EHRs) and collect and mobilize health data on smartphones. The more consumers want them, the more mobile health apps will continue to be a top consideration for the healthcare industry.
Earlier this year, the FDA shared plans to research how to connect patient health data between multiple sources, including EHRs and health apps. And technology giants Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all reported to respectively be looking into projects related to mobile access to patient health records.
But before Amazon’s 1492 (the rumored name for Amazon’s EHR project) comes to light, downloading other existing health apps can help you enjoy the benefits of mHealth with better access to and management of personal health records using smartphones or mobile devices.
30 percent of mHealth users are caregivers.
One health app already available for download to help manage health records and care is CareSync. The app connects patients with chronic conditions to CareSync Health Assistants who are able to communicate each patient’s most updated health information with all their doctors and also create a personalized plan of care.
Considering that 56 percent of mHealth users have a chronic disease or condition, CareSync is able to serve a large portion of mobile health app users.
For more information about the value of having all your health information in one place and to learn how app-enabled care can help you manage and follow a healthcare plan, click here to learn more.