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Improving Health Behaviors with Mobile Tools

How Do Mobile Tools Improve Health Behaviors?

Mobile Health, Mobile Tools, True Dialog SMS, behavioral health and technology, SMS Gateway, Mobile Apps


The American Heart Association program Life’s Simple 7 is a list of seven simple ways to improve your heart health:
being more active, eating better, managing your weight, reducing blood sugar, avoiding tobacco smoke, and controlling both cholesterol and blood pressure.

This list has become more manageable for those of us with fast-paced lives. When we use mobile applications, wearable sensors, and SMS alerts, we create awareness of our habits (both good and bad) and can make healthier choices.

Here’s how we’re using Mobile Tools to support healthy behaviors:

Weight Management

According to a statement recently released by the American Heart Association, “people who include mobile technology in a comprehensive lifestyle program for weight loss were more successful in short-term weight loss compared to those who tried to lose weight on their own, but there isn’t any published data on whether the participants maintained their weight loss beyond 12 months.”

A good mHealth weight loss program offers similar elements to that of a person-to-person individualized program. The mobile tools and programs that focus on a calorie-controlled diet with food intake tracking and customized feedback based upon your entires. More organizations are including SMS to send reminders and deliver healthcare literacy. This can be triggered by the entries made into a mobile app such as “Remember to eat 2-3 cups of vegetables today. Dinner Recipe Idea…”


Tracking Physical Activity

Mobile programs boost physical activity, however there is little research to show whether wearable technology actually helps you be physically active. Using a tool such as MapMyFitness or another physical activity tracking tool is most helpful when the user gets customized feedback and support from social circles – many mobile tools are integrated into social networks or have their own.


Smoking Intervention

The mobile apps using SMS to push out messages for smoking intervention can almost double the chances of quitting. However, about 90 percent of people using mobile apps fail to quit smoking after six months. The best approach for many, is using mobile health apps in combination with a traditional quit-smoking programs.

For healthcare professionals, mobile tools may actually boost screening for smoking. Many clinicians do not necessary ask about smoking during a patient exam. “Using mobile phones loaded with tobacco screening guidelines prompted nurses to ask patients about their smoking habits in 84 percent of clinic visits and to offer cessation counseling to 99 percent of smokers who expressed a willingness to kick the habit, according to a study from Columbia University School of Nursing published in Oncology Nursing Forum.” (source: MedicalXPress)


To learn more about changing behaviors using technology and mobile tools, check out Behavioral Healthcare and Technology: Using Science-Based Innovations to Transform Practice. Here’s a great recap of the book for reference on Piper Report. 



Health Communications in Today’s High-Tech World

Texting for Public Health Communications


While the Ebola outbreak has been a wild media storm in the US, it has been a harsh reality in Africa. Aid workers in Liberia have begun using text messaging to alert specific populations. “Workers with the United Nations Children’s Fund sent texts to a group of Monrovia teenagers telling them how to sign up for Ebola alerts.” (Chicago Tribune).  It has become a two-way channel for health communications where those teens can reply back with questions about avoiding the virus and ways to prevent sickness.


“Since the Ebola outbreak began last April, the Trilogy Emergency Relief Application (TERA) system has sent out about 2 million text messages a month in Sierra Leone, reminding people to seek treatment early, avoid physical contact with others and not resist the efforts of community health care workers.” (NPR).

This is key in areas of the world where internet is not available everywhere, especially in Sierra Leone where 60% of the population lives below the national poverty line.


While literacy rates in countries like Sierra Leone are quite low (about 43%), it is likely for a few people to have cellphones in villages who can read the text messages and disseminate the information to others.

“Ivory Coast, richer still than Nigeria and so far Ebola-free, is capitalizing on the mobile connectivity of its citizens by sending out millions of mass text messages warning about the dangers of Ebola and how to avoid catching it. Smartphone penetration is still low in Africa relative to the rest of the world—in Ivory Coast around 25% of all mobile phones are smartphones, while 90% of households have access to a mobile phone.” (Wall Street Journal).


Mobile Apps Help Gather Information


In addition to these text alerts, mobile apps have been used for reporting Ebola cases and used as a resource for safety information.  Scientists and developers all over the world are working hard to track and even predict the patterns of the Ebola virus.  If you have not already heard about Flowminder, then you should search it. Flowminder is the organization from MIT that has created national mobility estimates for West Africa, and they have delivered population mobility maps derived from anonimized mobile phone call detail record (CDR) datasets – see the image below to get an idea.

health communications, text messages, SMS,

“For us in Africa, connectivity is a life and death issue.”

(A resident of Ivory Coast)

mHealth Technology Brings Accessible Healthcare To Your Mobile Device

Hippocrates said, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Mobile technology presents users an opportunity by means of accessibility to a myriad of health-related resources.

mHealth Technology is Changing Healthcare

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration defines mobile health (often referred to as mHealth) as, “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services and health research.” Fifty-two percent of smartphone users already access health-related information on their phones, and the number of people using app-enabled mHealth devices is projected to leap from 15 million in 2013 to 96 million by 2018.

There are more than 97,000 health- and fitness-related mobile apps available. Users can access and engage a smartphone or tablet for healthcare needs by: monitoring blood pressure and other vitals, pregnancy tracking, the tracking and analysis of medical conditions in lieu of an actual device (for example: as a stethoscope to record a heartbeat; for diabetics to check glucose levels; as a sensor on an inhaler to track asthma; and for urinalysis), and the management of sleep, moods, weight, and prescriptions.mhealth Mobile Apps

Various mobile-integrated therapy applications are available for chronic illnesses and diseases, which account for more than 3/4 of healthcare spending. According to Digitas Health, 90 percent of patients with a chronic illness reported they would accept a mobile-app prescription from their doctor (yes, that exists!) compared to 66 percent who would accept a prescription for medication. Remote monitoring with mobile technology could reduce hospitalization for these patients by 47 percent and office visits by 65 percent, and save the U.S. $197 billion over the next 25 years.

For both iTunes and Google Play, the top health-related download is the “24/7 Medical Help” application Urgent Care. Personalized, physician-reviewed content is emphasized in WebMD’s app. The soon-to-be-released app Zest Health will take a concierge-like approach to healthcare with “Talk to Me,” “Schedule Me,” “Inform Me,” and “Track Me” functions. Of Americans who seek medical info online, 67 percent say this has made them better informed as patients. Data shows that physicians agree: 93 percent said they believe in the power of mobile health to improve a patients’ health, with many citing appointment alerts and care-management reminders as a top benefit.

mHealth technology provides more opportunities to reach people who are notoriously underserved by the healthcare industry: those below the poverty line, senior citizens, the disabled, those living in rural areas, and the homeless, many of whom have unmet health needs and poor access to care. Of these, the majority say they would prefer to save time, money and trouble by connecting with a doctor online, and many have phones. A recent study of people experiencing homelessness shows 70 percent own a cell phone.

SMS can be utilized for this purpose, as well as to deliver health information to specific demographics. The program TXT4Tots encourages healthy communities by providing a downloadable library of short, relevant text messages about nutrition, physical activity, etc. to send to parents and caregivers of small children.

Data predicts that mHealth’s integration into traditional healthcare systems will continue to advance, with increasingly more opportunities to take advantage of. Over the next 10 years mHealth is expected to save the healthcare industry more than $300 billion in increased productivity, as well as improve quality, increase access, stimulate consumer involvement and decrease costs. Obstacles to mHealth evolution are far outnumbered by the possibilities. As Mobile Beat says: “Welcome to the brave new world of healthcare.”

Mobile Increases Convenience For Online Dating

Mobile Increases Convenience, Youth Text Marketing, online dating My parents once knew a couple that had met on an online dating site. But back then that wasn’t common and many made up elaborate stories of how they really met in an attempt to hide the truth. Today the dating world has completely changed.  As a majority of the ways we communicate and network with people has shifted to technology, so has the dating world. Many young individuals who would partake in the dating scene are too wrapped up with work to have time to step away from their fast-paced lives to mingle with others face-to-face.

With our dependency on technology and our constant need to be plugged in, evolving media has made it easy to stay connected.

So what does this all mean for the online dating world? Mobile Increases Convenience! 

A mobile presence is something that all online dating sites should have already considered in the New Year.  Online dating sites need to expand their capabilities to continue to provide ease and convenience to the end users.  With our busy schedules we rarely find ourselves sitting at a desktop computer perusing sites; for the first time, mobile searches have surpassed that of desktop searches. Working mobile websites with login functions for the user to peruse the site and be alerted of new likes is the ground level of a mobile marketing presence for online dating sites.  Those that want to get the most from mobile marketing need to integrate text marketing into their current channels. Having a number directly linked to the users profile allows someone interested to push a message directly to their phone for immediate interaction and results. It has the ability to impact the end user instantly and would continue to draw in new users monthly.

The capabilities of a mobile presence go beyond a true mobile website and pushes deep into the realm of two-way text marketing.  Online dating sites need to implement such mobile strategies so they can continue to provide convenience for the user.  Convenience, the number one reason why the user began online dating in the first place.

To all the online dating websites – please do the busy singles a favor and keep us in the loop with mobile marketing.

Solving Internal Communication Problems With A Mobile Strategy

More companies are becoming digital than ever before, and utilizing a mobile strategy within your firm can be a crucial way to get fast responses in action. Although attending to client needs must be a top concern, addressing internal communications issues is also vital to ensure that small problems don’t grow into huge errors. This is where mobile software can play an important role, helping to keep all workers on the same page and leading to solving internal communication problems.

We have seen many times how a significant outage of service for a company has instantly brought their branding into disrepute. Any processes put in place to prevent errors from occurring are unseen by consumers and if wide scale problems are not instantly addressed, negative marketing can spread. For example, if the network of a mobile operator goes down, it is crucial to address the issue with customers to stop the negative feelings from arising, even though a lot of work may have been done in an attempt to prevent the outage in the first place.

The same concept is true with internal communications. By having a mobile strategy in place, you can ensure that everyone’s finger is on the pulse and that problems receive instant attention. This can help the performance and efficiency of a company significantly, avoiding larger errors that could affect customers and revenue. Mobile apps or internal mobile websites can be used for fast communication between workers, wherever they may be in the world. Meanwhile, with apps having notifications enabled, communications can be dealt with more quickly than through email. If you want to push your firm forward with mobile innovation, utilizing apps and mobile websites is crucial for maximizing performance.

Mobile Business Apps Provide Convenience For Comparison Shoppers


Comparison Shoppers Are Using Mobile Apps

Recently, Amazon announced that they are launching their augmented reality bar code scanning app on the Android platform.  As well as making in-store comparisons easily accessible to everyone running Android, it’s also an intriguing starting point to discuss future developments of the technology. As reported, 40% of smartphone owners are using their phones to compare products and prices and make purchases. The battle lines between ecommerce providers and multi-channel retailers are being drawn and the fight for comparison shoppers begins.

All this spells good news for the consumer, as their options increase in line with the competition for market space.  Sure, there’s integration between mobile phone marketing and third party apps that give people the opportunity to check and compare across a range of products and websites; but what about the advantages conferred when retailers create their own branded mobile business apps that issue targeted notifications of special deals straight to the smartphone?

Whoever comes out on top in this battle the rewards are clear.  With worldwide mobile payment transactions predicted to break the $171.5 billion barrier in 2012, it’s obvious that future trends predict an ever-greater share of business will be conducted on smartphones.

Mobile Health Apps to Increase with Smartphone Adoption

With the current popularity of smartphones with the general public, it makes perfect sense that these devices would be playing a larger role in mobile health apps. According to Juniper research, approximately three million smart phone owners will be using them for this purpose by the year 2016.
I can see handheld devices, such as smartphones, being an increasingly important part of healthcare in the future. They can be used to monitor cardiac patients without the person having to stay in a hospital, and this application could be used to monitor patients diagnosed with other types of chronic diseases.
This type of technology is already being used to monitor patients with diabetes. The camera function on smartphones can be used to provide information to dermatologists about wound care. As long as the camera on the phone can provide a good quality image, the doctor can monitor whether a patient is healing properly or if further treatment measures for ulcers and other disorders affecting the skin are necessary.
I was especially interested to learn that the company is predicting that users will download 44 million healthcare apps in 2012 and that this number will increase to 142 million in 2016. Over time, I can see smartphone technology being used to store and share health records.  Any application that can help doctors access information about their patients quickly and efficiently can only be good news for healthcare providers as well as the patients under their care.

mHealth Apps Grow to Reach $1.3 Billion

mHealth Apps Grow, mobile health, mhealth applications
We all understand how important mobile applications are to the healthcare field and predicted its rapid growth late last year. However, we were still surprised to learn that according to a report released by research2guidance, the market is expected to grow to $1.3 billion in 2012. This figure is a substantial increase over the numbers for 2011, which came out to $718 million.
With the number of mobile health application users predicted to reach 247 million in 2012, this method of using technology is here to stay. Since it is gaining in popularity, mobile health creates an opportunity for advertisers to reach specific target markets. Drug companies and others involved in the medical field will be able to get their messages directly in front of people who are interested in buying their products.
In some cases, revenues from mobile health applications will come from direct transactions. In other situations, money will be generated from providing patients with sensors that allow them to track information at home and forward it to their physician so that a specific medical condition can be monitored.
While some members of the public will resist mobile health applications, people who already own smartphones are probably more likely to embrace it. With smartphones becoming almost a necessary accessory for a certain segment of the population, I can see that people in this demographic will look at mobile health apps as just another type of application available to them.

Mobile Health Apps to Grow in Popularity

mobile health apps
I was very interested to read that the use of mobilehealth apps by doctors and patients is poised for growth. This makes perfect sense to me, since consumers are already using their tablets and smartphones for internet searches, shopping and other functions.
According to the Analysis of the U.S. Broadband mHealth Applications Market, the number of tablet users will increase to 82 million by 2015 from the ten million people who owned one in 2010. What I initially did find surprising was the report’s conclusion that the majority of people who would be using these mobile health apps would be older Americans. It did not fit in with the idea I had that smartphones and tablets were something that would appeal to younger people.
When I gave the matter some more thought, I realized that it makes sense that people living with chronic health conditions and their caregivers would be interested in using mobile apps that can help them doctors keep track of their condition.
If using a handheld device can help to track a patient’s blood pressure, glucose readings, or medication dosages directed by a doctor, then this is a very welcome development for medical care. I predict that the popularity of mobile health applications will continue to grow over the next several years. Probably the only thing holding health care consumers back from using them is lack of knowledge, and that obstacle will not last much longer.

Majority of Doctors Using Mobile Technology at Work

I knew that mobile technology was popular among consumers, but recently, the use of mobile technology has been used by many physicians, nurses, and others in the medical field on a regular basis. According to a study conducted by Jackson & Coker, 80 percent of physicians are using these devices in their work on a daily basis, meaning that the number of doctors using mobile technology at work is on the rise.

Why are mobile devices so popular with people working in the medical field? I can see a few of the reasons why doctors have stepped up to embrace mobile technology. For one thing, they are easy to use. Smartphones and tablets are portable and are easy for the doctor to take with him or her when moving from one patient examination room to the next.

Another advantage to mobile technology in the healthcare field is that doctors can access information about their patients quickly and easily. Having patient records at hand is an important part of diagnosing and treating ailments, and now that hospitals and clinics are moving toward storing them electronically, it makes sense for doctors to use mobile devices to access them quickly.

Doctors make decisions that have an immediate impact on their patients’ lives, and they need to have the best possible information to make them. If carrying around a smartphone or a tablet on the job means they can offer better patient care, then this is a great strategy.

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