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mHealth - Healthcare went the mobile way

In this hectic and fast-paced lifestyle, health is of paramount importance. As the old saying goes “Health is Wealth”, which holds true more than ever, good health is what keeps a person going in tough times of modern life and enjoy the blooming of good times. To be in good health or to recover from illness, one must keep an eye on essential parameters of the human body’s functioning. This requires frequent visits to physicians at cost of money and time to get a personal consultation. This problem is solved by the advent of mHealth (mobile health). By mHealth, patients can keep track of their health data in real-time and inform healthcare providers of any abnormalities at the push of a button. 

So, what exactly is mHealth ( mobile health)

The World Health Organisation defined health  as “use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives.”In simpler terms, mobile health is the monitoring and sharing of knowledge about health through mobile devices – wearables and health-tracking applications. The use of mobile devices and wireless technology to monitor symptoms and provide care enables physicians to diagnose patients more quickly and with fewer errors.

Difference between mHealth vs telehealth

Health is a subset of telehealth. Telehealth refers to all instances of healthcare via the use of modern technology, whereas health refers to the concept of mobile self-care utilizing mobile technology to inform and educate consumers health by collecting data without medical professionals help.

How mHealth is beneficial 

 

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The reduction in the appointment costs by using m-health applications. The patient and physician could use the information from mHealth for post-surgical recovery instructions and medication reminders.
  2. Consumers: According to the Leavitt Partners report of 2018, clinical care only accounts for 20% of healthcare costs, whereas social determinants account for the rest 80%.
  3. Health Insurers: Health Insurers could tie with other fitness apps or mhealth apps or create their own to cater to different health needs of the people. By doing so they can pitch their products or give incentives to people to maintain a certain degree of physical health.

Various types of mHealth apps

 

mHealth apps are gaining more and more popularity especially during the pandemic of Covid-19. Some of the most common categories of mHealth apps include: 

  1. Clinical and diagnostic apps: Such apps enable practitioners to capture, analyze and exchange patient data. You can also have access to electronic health records ( EHRs) on the move, glimpse of laboratory tests or visual images. Integrated symptom testers help doctors and caregivers easily identify illnesses and injuries. Such apps even allow for hassle-free patient scheduling.

 

2. Remote monitoring apps: Remote monitoring systems allow patients to stay at home while still under (virtual) physician supervision. Excluding clinic visits, physicians can monitor heart rates, oxygen levels, blood sugar tests, blood pressure, and other related information about health care.

 

3. Clinical reference: Clinical reference apps offer digital access to the ICD-9 and ICD-10, E&M coding, and other specialized reference materials.

 

4. Productivity apps: Productivity and efficiency are characteristic of mobile health and multiple applications are built to improve user’s performance. They provide home healthcare scheduling, mobile charting, remote dictation, and in-house business connectivity.

5. Healthy living apps: Designed with patient engagement in mind, healthy living apps track health metrics such as diet, exercise, heart rate, and sleep. Pregnant women can even use apps about fetal development. Patients with diabetes or heart disease may benefit apps that offer a diet plan tailored to their specific circumstances.

mhealth growth and future ahead 

In 2018, there were over 318,000 health apps available on the top app stores worldwide with projected market valuation up to US$ 8.0 billion in 2018 and is expected to generate around USD 111.1 billion by 2025, at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate of around 38.26% between 2019 and 2025. This growth is due to increased smartphone adoption and continued investment in the digital market.

 

mHealth challenges ahead

 

One of the primary concerns which consumers face is related to privacy and personal data sharing. mHealth solutions often share data among multiple technologies and applications which may include third party apps or app developers. The cognizance of this have been by European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation or In US by various acts like  US Privacy Act of 1974, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996 (HIPAA), Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,2000 (COPPA), Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act,1999 (GLBA). In India the Data Protection Bill, 2019 is under consideration before a joint parliamentary committee.

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