It’s Time for the Medical Industry to Adopt Mobile Health Tools
There have been some clear disagreements between doctors and patients over the past few years about how to handle their healthcare information. According to a recent survey completed by Medscape and WebMD, 84 percent of patients reported that technology should be used to assist in the diagnostic process; however, only 69 percent of doctors agreed with the idea. The two groups did generally agree on other areas such as using smartphones for routine blood tests.
Through this survey, we are seeing an overall shift in feelings about mhealth. Both patients and doctors are embracing new technology, especially mobile, being used in medical practice. This will have a significant impact on the future of healthcare.
Mobile Health (mHealth) Market Forecast 2014-2024 : A Revolution in eHealth, Telemedicine, Informatics & Connected Health
The advent of connected devices and M2M is offering a tremendous opportunity for healthcare professionals. Near-ubiquitous mobile networks are allowing carers to diagnose, monitor, and communicate with patients with unprecedented speed and efficacy.
mHealth is a term used for the practice of medicine and health services, through mobile devices. In its most common form, it refers to using mobile communication devices, such as smartphones and tablets, for health services and information. mHealth applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, and direct provision of care, via mobile telemedicine.
The emergence of low-cost smartphones has allowed wider access to app stores, which are now home to over a million mHealth apps. These range between freemium apps geared around diet and daily fitness routines, scaling up to costly premium apps with elaborate clinical reference points, images, diagnostic, and monitoring functions.
Austerity measures have forced many health departments around the globe to rein in their spending and find more cost-effective ways of operating. Enabling them to diagnose, monitor, and communicate with patients remotely, mHealth promises extensive cost-savings for healthcare professionals and institutions. This new industry will also pay dividends to network operators, software developers, and data platform management providers who may turn their core competencies onto the medical field.
Visiongain forecasts the mHealth market to reach a $6.7 billion value by the end of 2014.
The Future of Mobile Health (mHealth)
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Originally published on by ReportBuyer
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.
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.”
How Can Text Messages Cut Operational Costs?
There are so many things for us to remember these days – bill payment dates, passwords, vehicle maintenance, doctor appointments, and picking up prescriptions. It is overwhelming and difficult to remember it all, so something always ends up lost or forgotten. New technologies and innovators constantly come up with creative ways to solve issues like this one. Text messages cut operational costs for pharmacies; and mobile technology in general has been a saving grace for many people. It is a cost effective solution for pharmacies. Several of the large companies including Walgreens and CVS have adopted text message refill reminders for their customers. It has helped to make operations run smoothly, and customers are happy to get a reminder in a place they notice – unlike email. However, very few of the independent pharmacies have implemented a text marketing solution for refill reminders. Considering that they represent 1.5 billion prescriptions each year, it is somewhat shocking to realize.
Mobile Technology Integration Barrier
The big reason that so few independent pharmacies are adding text marketing to their refill reminder system is technology integration. Many smaller retailers use older management software for recording and processing orders. They accept orders in person, over the phone and even via fax. These tasks can be time consuming and inefficient. If some time and money was spent upfront to implement an automated solution such as text messaging, then it could relieve employees of unnecessary work and increase the time for them to spend consulting with patients. If I was the owner or manager of an independent pharmacy, then I would do a time study of the pharmacy employees. How much time do they spend taking manual orders and translating them into a management system? How much time is spent consulting with patients? Then I would ask myself if text messaging would save time and make my team more efficient. The most likely answer is yes, it reduces some unnecessary work. Maybe it’s time to start shopping around for a solution.
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.
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.