mHealth technology is short for mobile health technology. It’s a growing facet of health technology which delivers a lot of benefits to the public. Today, we’d like to share information about this form of technology and how it works. Our goal is to demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of mHealth technology so that you have a deeper understanding of what it can provide.
As well, to keep things in balance, we’ll talk about the disadvantages of this form of technology.
Let’s start things off my talking about mHealth technology and why it’s such a growing concern. This form of technology is making a big impact. It’s being used and valued, and it’s helping patients to lead happier healthier lives. When you choose mHealth technology, as a health care provider or as a patient, or as both, you’ll be using technology to access vital data and in order to communicate your thoughts and ideas.
On both sides, communication is heightened, so that everyone is on the same page. Even apps, which don’t allow for communication with real human beings, are often loaded with an array of vital facts which help users to make smarter decisions about self-care and about their own health.
mHealth Technology is Booming
mHealth technology is utilized to provide patient care and/or information. To date, eighty-three percent of doctors in America are utilizing this form of technology to help their patients. It’s about speeding up the pace and convenience of health care delivery. It’s about helping more patients, faster.
At present, this type of technology doesn’t really have a formal definition. It’s been evolving rapidly, and it’s somewhat undefined since it’s relatively new and always changing. However, according to the World Health Organization, it may be a public health and medical practice which is handled via mobile hardware. It’s all about accessing preventative health services, as well as medical services, through specific forms of mobile hardware, such as tablets and smart phones.
Under this broad category, a range of applications is available. For example, providers of health care may utilize this type of technology to view information which is clinical, via apps for mobile health and EHRs which are mobile-compatible. Collaborating with other health care team members via encrypted text messages is also a possibility. Encryption does provide a lot of security. It’s not perfect, but it’s very secure. It’s much harder to decipher messages which are encrypted.
As well, via mHealth technology, patients may be monitored in real-time. The process of delivering health care via a remote Web connection and mobile hardware is known as telemedicine, and this is also a facet of mHealth technology. Telemedicine is a thoroughly modern choice, and it’s the wave of the future. While face-to-face health care delivery will always be there and always being important, there are times when using telemedicine will make more sense. It’s a fast and effective way to share information. Facts may be communicated clearly, via mobile devices, so that there are no misunderstandings, and the need to physically meet won’t be there.
If you check out health information via mHealth apps and other health tracking devices, including the popular Fitbit, you’re already putting mHealth technology into practice. There are so many mHealth apps on the market, and they do offer a plethora of benefits, whether they are used primarily for fun or for more serious purposes.
In the future, you may find clinical records via patient portals which are enabled for mobile devices. As well, you may be able to communicate with health care professionals through secure texting which is compliant with HIPAA patient confidentiality guidelines. HIPAA guidelines must always be followed. They are there to protect patients, by ensuring that their personal health care records are not seen by those who don’t have a right and reason to look at them.
HIPAA rules are important and any mHealth technology must be HIPAA compliant. The tech wizards who create mHealth apps and other forms of mHealth technology are always working on new methods of ensuring optimal data security, with a mind to protecting patient privacy. As technology evolves, those who want to abuse it also hone their skills, so patient privacy is always going to be something to worry about and work on.
This type of technology shows great promise regarding boosting patient health in the third world or in poorer, developed countries. During 2011, seventy percent of wireless device plan holders had low or mid-range salaries. The potential of this technology is great regarding making sure that needier people get the advice and health care services that they need. While every needy person doesn’t have access to mobile technology, more do than you might expect, and this means that mHealth technology is often within reach.
For example, people who live far away from cities or in very poor areas will be able to connect with health care professionals via mobile hardware. They won’t have the burden of needing to travel to a town or city to get help. Since many can’t afford this type of travel, mHealth is a way of helping those who are in need and, in some cases, at the most risk for health problems. The miraculous and even life-saving potential of mHealth technology is not to be underestimated.
Currently, one hundred and twelve countries which are part of the World Health Organization are initiating or have initiated mHealth practices. This growing trend is all about making sure that citizens in a range of nations can get the health care information that they need.
It’s fun to imagine the possibilities. For example, it is nice to think that a single mother who is needy but has a mobile device will be able to find out how to treat her sick child, even if she lives far away from a hospital, or that an elderly person will feel more secure because he or she can text with a doctor whenever the need arises. It’s about giving people better health care services.
What Are the Disadvantages?
Some patients may find that delivery of healthcare via mobile devices is a little too impersonal. While many will embrace this convenient form of health care delivery, others may not enjoy communicating with health care professionals via their Web connections. People who are elderly and less familiar with modern mobile device technology and how to use it may prefer the old ways.
However, smartphones have been around for a long time now, so it’s safe to say that many seniors do use them and enjoy them. What’s important is that patients have choices, and this form of technology is another choice for them. They may use it or continue going for face-to-face visits, or both. So, the impersonal nature of texting and using apps isn’t necessarily all bad. Most of us text and email people and find that this form of communication is fulfilling. It doesn’t always have to be impersonal.
While the technology certainly offers a lot, there are some risks and challenges associated with it, many of which relate to protecting patient privacy in the Internet Age. After all, no mobile data transmission will ever be one hundred percent “hack-proof.” There will always be the risk, however, small it is, that private patient information will fall into the wrong hands. This is a big and legitimate concern, and it’s something that programmers will need to be vigilant about. Once hacking is performed, it’s too late to do much about it, beyond trying to trace the hacker, and this is often difficult to do, thanks to proxy networks and so on. Therefore, prevention is key.
However, that risk exists with paper files also and with computer databases. Also, there are challenges which relate to making sure that mobile health technology integrates seamlessly with EHRs and other forms of technology for health. As well, experts will need to decide which types of apps for mHealth offer performance which is effective and safe.
Growth for This Technology Will Continue
In 2015, the number of patients who received remote monitoring via mHealth technology rose by fifty-one percent. This signaled a change in the health care delivery landscape, and it’s certain that this growth will continue. Patients who are part of mHealth programs for healthcare and/or health tracking are getting benefits from this form of technology. Recent projections from experts indicate that numbers of users of mHealth technology will reach forty-nine percent by the year 2020. That means that 36.1 people will use the technology by that year.
Home medical monitoring devices, are increasingly enabled with this form of technology. As well, many patients are using their mobile devices to gather valuable data about their own health. Versatile and often free or very affordable, mHealth technology is a great way to learn more about taking care of yourself, from discovering information about recommended dosages for drugs to learning about symptoms of health care ailments and beyond.
Will You Use mHealth Technology?
Now that you know more about this form of technology, as well as its myriad applications and benefits, do you think that you’ll use it yourself?
It’s designed to help. It’s there for those who enjoy its ease, convenience, and clarity. The key to deciding whether or not this type of technology is right for you is considering your own health care needs, as well as your level of familiarity with apps, texting, and mobile devices. The truth is that learning is easy. This means that those who have no knowledge of mHealth technology can pick it up quickly if they are motivated. Those who do have a facility with mHealth technology will be able to use it without a real learning curve. If you’ve ever sent a text message, you’ll be able to send one to a health care professional via a secure mHealth texting interface. It’ll be so easy for you to do.
If you need more health care support than most, you may find that augmenting your conventional health care service model is beneficial. You’ll be able to combine service delivery types to access more health care services and more vital information. mHealth technology is designed to provide communication via mobile hardware and it’s such a clean and clear way to get help from health care pros. As well, mHealth apps are loaded with features which will help you to take care of yourself.
Conversely, if you don’t typically need a lot of health care, you’ll find that mHealth may be enough to take care of most of your health care needs. It’s convenient, it’s easy to use, and it will put you in touch with people or information whenever you need assistance. People who are very healthy may find that mHealth virtually replaces trips to the doctor. While they may need to hit a clinic occasionally, they’ll be able to get a lot of support, advice, and information via mHealth technology.
Long-term Use of mHealth Tech is Beneficial
Studies have shown that prolonged usage of self-management devices which are electronic leads to patient outcomes which are more positive. However, to maximize the benefits, patients should combine health care delivery methods. For example, they should engage with doctors face-to-face, while also using mHealth technology. This information on patient outcomes comes from the Journal of Medical Internet Research.
At this point, sixty-nine percent of USA citizens monitor some element of their health via their mobile devices. Twenty-one percent utilize mHealth to find and use information. Since this technology is so powerful and popular, it’s important that health care professionals understand it fully. It’s really the key to comprehending how such tools will impact patients and their self-care routines.
Now that you know more about mHealth technology, you’ve gained a deeper understanding of what it is, how it is used and what its pros and cons are.