Mobile devices have revamped human lives exponentially, practically inventing processes across every industry- from education to retail, manufacturing to finance. In today’s day and age when healthcare is a key priority that the world has its eyes set on, technology has helped in every possible way- from helping manage chronic diseases to fighting a pandemic. mHealth or mobile health has been redefining healthcare since the past decade and in this article, we will discuss the several ways healthcare has been redefined with the help of mHealth.
Let’s start with the basics.
mHealth and mobile health is healthcare and medicine practice using mobile devices. These mobile devices can be mobile phones, tablets, laptops, custom-made healthcare devices, and personal online assistants powered with mobile technology. Mhealth is considered to be a subsegment of the larger e-health industry and was first used by Robert Istepanian as the use of ‘emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare’.
mHealth democratizes access to healthcare tracking and reduces physician dependency for health monitoring and patient data collection. Mhealth also steps in educating patients about preventive healthcare, upholds treatments and disease surveillance which in-turn reduces the burden on the healthcare systems.
mHealth is incremental in reformulating healthcare and especially in trying times like a pandemic, physicians and healthcare resort to mHealth to ensure the timely treatment to patients undergoing critical as well as non-critical conditions.
Mhealth enables patients to keep a track of their daily progress, medications, activities, and vitals such as heart rate via intuitive apps. This not only involves the patients in the process of healthcare but also ensures that the patient data is closely monitored for a long period and the data is readily available for the physician on the visit. For chronic conditions, regular patient monitoring can help in raising alarms for emergencies before they take place and also makes the patient more accountable for treatment, medication, and activity adherence.
In most of the developing countries across the globe, the patient data is not centralized and cannot be readily accessed over the cloud. Mhealth breaks this barrier by maintaining patient treatment, history, and vital data right in an app that can be used by the healthcare providers whenever needed and also in case of emergency. The physicians and healthcare providers also make use of tablets for healthcare with apps to take notes, offer prescriptions and offer consultation over the phone with highly accurate data.
The conventional healthcare systems heavily rely on one-to-one meetings for healthcare advice, however preliminary it might be. After the pandemic hit, however, healthcare providers and systems across the globe are rethinking this entire process. While some healthcare systems are overburdened handling emergencies, others are not. Similarly in the areas with widespread infections, physicians cannot risk calling in patients with comorbid conditions, susceptible to infections, or for prenatal care.
Telemedicine powered with mHealth apps enables healthcare providers to extend consultation over the air, via video chats and encrypted document sharing. Telemedicine also enables physicians from less infected areas to provide consultation to general medical queries as well as designated consultations to the patients belonging to the highly infected areas to balance the cognitive load. Moreover, infected and quarantined physicians and healthcare providers can continue providing virtual consultations using telemedicine powered by mHealth.
Challenging times demand innovative ways to repurpose existing ideas. In areas where infections, such as a pandemic are on a spreading spree, contact tracing apps can help in understanding the micro-geographies where the infection could have been passed on to and quick actions can be taken to alert the citizens and prevent an outbreak.
mHealth is not restricted to specially designed mobile apps or mobile devices dedicated to healthcare and this is where it gets interesting. Mhealth is using mobile technology in every possible way to support healthcare and apps like Google Maps or Google lenses can help the patients in finding the closest healthcare center, hospital, or specialized provider. Moreover healthcare apps like these aggregate the reviews and experiences of the former patients enabling patients to make informed decisions while selecting their healthcare provider.
Since mHealth enables patients to access the best point-at-source medical care irrespective of geographical location, they can save on unnecessary costs on misleading treatments. Moreover, since most primitive healthcare queries are solved over the air with mHealth apps, the patient saves costs in accessing the clinic. In underdeveloped regions where the costs involved prevent patients from seeking medical help, this can be a boon! Healthcare centers and hospitals can also make do with reduced staff helping in cost optimization.
mHealth is the futuristic approach to healthcare and might very soon catch up in the countries where it already hasn’t. Along with several of its benefits, mHealth also ushers inpatient data security and compliance challenges that have to be carefully addressed on the healthcare provider end of the spectrum. With an MDM for healthcare, these security challenges can be addressed and compliance can be ensured.