The New Medicine: 4 Ways to Leverage Mobile in Healthcare

Publication Date
5 May 2020

The New Medicine: 4 Ways to Leverage Mobile in Healthcare

From a lack of access to high costs, certain problems have plagued the healthcare industry for years. There’s an unlikely emerging cure for this epidemic, and it's something the average person uses 150 times a day: their mobile device. While mobile has had a late emergence in the industry, smart devices can help keep costs low and ensure services are more affordable and accessible for more patients. It certainly helps that over 270 million Americans have a smartphone device with access to hundreds of thousands of health-related apps and since COVID began they’re using them more than ever before.

The question is, how can health providers leverage mobile technology to better connect with patients, drive desirable results and ultimately create a better competitive advantage? The answer is as simple as downloading an app — and as complex as human behavior.

1. Staying Informed and Connected

Can interfacing with a mobile app actually increase patient engagement and help providers take better care of their patients? Yes, it can. And it does, especially when you consider that doctors and healthcare professionals are people too, also using their phones to stay informed and connected.

One company is swallowing the concept of digital health quite literally. Proteus has developed an ingestible chip that can be implanted in a pill. The patient takes their medication, and it dissolves in the stomach, sending a signal to a patch worn on the skin. This signal prompts an email to the health provider informing that the patient has indeed taken their medicine. Then, by way of the mobile app, both patient and provider have access to a record of medication adherence — or non-adherence — as well as a log of other inputted information, such as exercise or mood.

Another company called AirStrip has developed a technology that is transforming cardiac care by enabling clinicians to access EKGs remotely. Without being present in the room, physicians can get access to information crucial to making faster decisions on how to care for their patients. Mobile Carts by Add On Data are a similar solution. This computer gives the doctor access to their patients' imaging results right away, so they can review it together. This technology leads to better care and allows the patient to be more involved in their own care.

2. Utilizing Data

Healthcare mobile applications can collect data around the clock. Temp Traq is an adhesive patch that goes under a child's arm. The patch tracks their temperature and sends data to the app on the parent's phone. This provides a continuous and accurate stream of temperature data and eliminates the need to wake the child.

With mobile solutions, a physician can get more of a “population health” viewpoint. Rather than looking at just individual information about a patient, the physician can see the data in aggregate across a group of patients and start looking for patterns. If a certain set of patients is experiencing symptoms trending toward a specific issue, the physician can determine faster if it’s a specific weather condition, diet or some other pattern that’s the root cause.

3. Granting Accessibility

The notion of mobile health expands on the concept of telehealth, which originated with the idea of enabling a physician to make diagnoses and treatment decisions remotely over video conference, rather than making the patient go to where care is delivered. Now, mobile health is another way of bringing that care to the patient while involving — and empowering — the patient in their own care. Plus, it can lower the costs for treatment by reducing or eliminating some of the external healthcare costs, such as transportation to the facility and taking time off work. These saved costs are beneficial for both the patient and provider by increasing the quality and satisfaction of care.

4. Incorporating Context

The great thing about mobile devices is that they have a whole host of technologies inside of them that can determine context — for example, the clock, GPS and camera. Cell phones and their data can connect to all types of wearable devices like Fitbit and Jawbone, providing a wealth of information encapsulated within one device. This information can be collected, stored and shared with a health provider, care team, family or social network to nurture better and more personalized healthcare and motivation towards healthy habits.

The value of this context-awareness is that it enables the deployment of different types of motivational drivers to help people take better care of their own health. These drivers can promote any number of healthy behaviors, from remembering to take a pill to losing weight. The right motivation may be an educational reminder for some, a leaderboard competition for others or just access to a social network for encouragement.

Mobile in Healthcare is the Future

For patients to be more empowered in their healthcare, you need to engage them on a behavioral level. There are endless ways to do this, such as through a companion app for a therapeutic drug or a solution for medication adherence, by improving diet and exercise or controlling alcohol and cigarette use. Like traditional medical prescription, you can't treat everyone the same to drive (or change) behavior. And that’s where the individual personalization of healthcare mobile apps comes into play.

Bottom line: when it comes to your personal health, mobile health apps are just what the doctor ordered.

For more on mobile health, listen to our complete interview on Health Connect South. 

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