mHealth or mobile health is rapidly turning into the new normal of the healthcare industry. Agile technological adoptions of mobile health have created a plethora of opportunities for remote caregiving and speedier service. A cheaper and faster diagnosis is the biggest advantage of mobile health, but there are several others. mHealth apps have significantly improved the quality and approach toward healthcare services. The market for mHealth apps is fast evolving with dynamic options for caregivers and patients’ convenience. Healthcare organizations should consider making mHealth apps their priority towards growth and a better bottom line.
Consider this. At least once or maybe more, you have used your phone for some health-related task. Whether it is to show your physician a picture related to a health concern or for a prescription, now, imagine if the entire process of a healthcare service could be executed with that kind of convenience. This is the crux of mobile healthcare. Make no mistake. Mobile healthcare is as convenient for the healthcare organization as it is for the patient. There is a wholesome sense of satisfaction. Almost 70% of Americans agree with this and use mobile health apps in one way or another.
Nonetheless, whether you are a caregiver or a patient, there is some amount of vagueness when it comes to mobile health apps. There is a wide variety of options out there, and it can be hard to decipher which mobile health technology is right for you. Here is our guide for everything you need to know about mHealth.
What is mHealth?
As you see it today, a mobile health app has gone through a significant amount of evolution. Healthcare mobile apps have gained significant momentum, over the years, in the healthcare sector. With the consistently increasing number of people using mobile devices, a mobile health app is nothing short of a necessity. Within the current pandemic, the benefits of virtual care have been realized like never before. Telehealth solutions and a remote health monitoring system have been promptly adopted by healthcare organizations to stay ahead of the curve. A mobile health app further poses a significant advantage toward disease management and preventive care. It requires a knowledgeable adaptation of the mobile health app for the physician and patient alike.
Mobile health apps, as a form of automated healthcare solutions, can now be used to record encrypted and sensitive patient data. With information stored through healthcare cloud computing, future reference to relevant patient data is now easily accessible through mHealth solutions. A larger patient population can be managed through virtual care options on mHealth solutions. This is a dominating factor behind the surge of mHealth technology.
To gain a better understanding of what is mHealth technology, we have to look at it as a part of integrated healthcare solutions. mHealth solutions are used by over 80% of healthcare agencies in some form or the other. Physicians stand in the majority to affirm their belief that a mobile medical application plays a significant part in improving patient health while reducing doctor visit requirements. Finally, a majority of healthcare organizations confirm that their data efficiency has increased with the adoption of a mobile medical application.
Uses of a mHealth system:
The mHealth app has multiple beneficiaries’ uses. Globally, the mHealth app industry has reached a market size of over $60 billion. The main reason behind this surge in mobile health services is the maximized use of mobile devices and speedy advances in agile technologies of mobile health applications. Healthcare mobile technology, as the name suggests, is the integration of healthcare into mobile devices. Listed below are some of the immediate uses of a healthcare mobile app.
Increased Connectivity: Traditionally, patient and doctor interaction was essentially limited to in-person doctor appointments. However, with a healthcare mobile app and efficient healthcare management, frequent interactions can be organized through a mHealth solution.
Chronic Disease Management: Unlike the days gone by, when patients were checked up at periodic intervals, mHealth technologies now allow consistent and regular monitoring of patients. Chronic diseases are vigilantly tracked virtually to ensure that any flags are promptly addressed through electronic data interchange.
Easy Accessibility: One of the biggest challenges of the healthcare industry has been mounting paperwork. With an efficient healthcare mobile app, this hurdle is eradicated. Medical data is accessible instantly and safely on the healthcare mobile app for timely action. They can even be synced with EHR systems for overall functionality.
Self-Monitoring of Health: When a healthcare mobile app is embedded with the right tools and technology, patients can take responsibility for monitoring their own health and reduce the pressure on the healthcare organization. Multiple features such as an oximeter, sugar testing, activity level measures, etc., can be utilized.
Appointment Scheduling: Instead of leaving this burden on the administrative staff of the healthcare organization, appointments can be scheduled directly by the patients on the healthcare mobile app. The process is seamlessly conducted through a series of automated steps.
Telehealth Consults: Unnecessary trips to the caregiver can be avoided through telemedicine options in healthcare mobile app development. This means that a patient can do a quick online consult for matters that may not require in-person visits. A patient engagement system can be established through mHealth services that allow the patient to connect with their caregiver for an audio/ text or video consult.
Medical Data Records: Healthcare organizations understand the burden of extracting medical information from patients. Likewise, patients have to constantly provide this medical data to multiple healthcare professionals. Healthcare mobile app development allows for shared health-related data to offer this information in an automated fashion to all relevant entities.
Appointment Reminders: Healthcare organizations should consider applying this feature during healthcare mobile app development as an important tool of mobile health services. This eliminates a major chunk of repetitive administrative work and decreases the possibility of no-shows. Simply put, the mHealth application will provide the patient with an automated reminder based on previous appointment scheduling data entered.
Medication Alerts: Frequently, patient health degeneration is a result of irregularity of medication. Remembering to take medication benefits not only the patient but also the healthcare organization in providing a better health experience to the patient. Through efficient mHealth app development, medication reminders can ensure that patients are reminded at the scheduled time to take their prescribed medication.
Enhances Physician Efficiency: Physicians are overwhelmed due to clinical tasks and care delivery. And in this course, their productivity and efficiency take a toll. But mHealth apps can resolve this by helping them with meaningful insights to improve patient care. As mHealth apps can effectively monitor patients’ conditions and directly transfer this data, physicians can make decisions on time and boost care efficiency.
Benefits of mHealth Development:
With the adoption of mHealth and telemedicine, the advantages for caregivers, healthcare organizations, and patients are numerous. Below are some obvious benefits:
Reduced Cancellations: One of the foremost advantages of mHealth applications is the fact that the appointment alert feature enables patients to adhere to their visits, saving the healthcare organization from cancellations and maximum utility of caregiver hours. Cancellations tend to cost healthcare organizations a lot of money. But mobile health apps can save this expense by notifying patients about their upcoming appointments much before the appointment date since most patients fail to show up, as they don’t remember having appointments. Perhaps, with mobile health apps, this issue of resolve easily and sudden cancellations or no show-ups no longer affect healthcare facilities.
Medication Regularity: This is another strength of the reminder feature in mHealth applications, wherein patients are consistently reminded to take their medication. This provides maximized health benefits to the patient and the utility of the healthcare organization. In a study conducted on 600,000 patients, nearly 30% forgot to take their medicines, 20% failed to renew their prescriptions, and 10% put off refills. From these numbers, it’s clear what they would have been the consequences. Well, medication non-adherence is a concerning thing for several providers. Such issue eventually leads to hospital readmissions and severe health issues, ultimately costing healthcare facilities. But the mhealth apps’ reminder feature can make these problems avoidable. As patients can get timely reminders for medications, the adherence rate will increase, and care outcomes will improve too. This can also reduce hospital readmissions and increase savings.
Reduced Healthcare Expenses: Mobile health applications have proven to reduce a considerable amount of expense for the healthcare organization and patients. Timely medications, attention to health through wellness apps, etc., keeps the patient’s health in check and reduces re-visits. Healthcare organizations experience reduced costs of administrative paperwork and physical visits. Besides this, mHealth apps can also help healthcare facilities reduce care costs by providing health literacy to patients. Through these apps, patients can learn more about disease management and self-care for chronic conditions. This will improve their health and automatically cut down hospital expenses. Also, mobile health apps can store health records and provide physicians access to them anytime, anywhere. This way, physicians feel more burdened with administrative tasks and can focus more on patients. That means improvements in the quality of care and increased savings.
Reduced Administrative Burden: Paperwork, appointment follow-ups, patient data management, etc., are all tasks that require the healthcare organization to employ an extra pair of hands. All of these processes are undertaken through the smart technology of mobile health applications. This immediately benefits the healthcare organization through the automation of processes. There’s no debate that physicians and staff are overwhelmed by administrative tasks. And errors in these also financially impact healthcare organizations. It’s only the mHeath technology that grants access and manages these tasks on mobiles. That means physicians no longer need to go to their systems to enter clinical notes or transfer data to EHR/EMR. All these can be done with just a few clicks. And that’s the beauty of mHealth apps.
Medical Billing Simplified: Through the adoption of healthcare mobile services, several features of medical billing and patient data are automated. This reduces the scope of manual errors that cause denied or rejected claims. Faster reimbursements result in a better bottom line for the healthcare organization. Besides, the mobile health apps on billing can also make it convenient for providers to check the claims anytime, anywhere. And make necessary changes, if required. They need not rush to the system to make changes. This saves their time too.
Caregiving efficiency: From medical informatics to practice management solutions, healthcare mobile development encourages efficient and timely service to patients. Healthcare mobile application allows the caregiver to be easily accessible and thereby enhances patient experience. With mHealth apps, patients can also track their health conditions and intimidate physicians when required without leaving the comfort of their homes. And care givers can immediately attend to them virtually; care outcomes are much better.
Optimized Medical Data: With the transition of medical mHealth data, the patient’s medical information is safely available on a secure platform for easy access and updating. mHealth security has significantly advanced in the current times, creating efficient opportunities for data analysis and medical billing.
Improvement in Patient engagement and Care: Mobile health apps can effectively boost patient engagement rates in multiple ways. From chronic to geriatric patients, mhealth technology can help patients learn about their conditions. With a better understanding of their health conditions, patients can make changes in their lifestyle and are more likely to succeed in managing their chronic conditions too. Besides, patients can monitor their health vitals, medical records, and prescriptions. Some mobile health apps even offer offline capabilities that can help patients to access health information. All these ensure the overall care outcomes and patient experience.
Enhanced adherence to treatment plans: It’s crucial to ensure patients adhere to them to ensure desired care outcomes. And mobile health technology is the best suited to achieve this. mHealth apps’ reminder feature can help patients to abide by their treatment plans. Not just medications but also nutrition and other activities essential for the treatment. Reminding the patients on time can prevent a lot of complications.
Increased Health Literacy and Preventive care: Another major advantage mobile health apps offer is health literacy. Patients usually are unaware of their diagnosis and treatment plans. They are completely dependent on caregivers for this. But mhealth applications can ensure health literacy in patients by providing them with all necessary health-related information. Moreover, mHealth apps can provide preventive care to patients, as patients can monitor vitals and habits easily. This can be particularly helpful for patients with chronic conditions.
Current Trends in Mobile Health Solutions:
Patient Wellness: A fast emerging trend in mobile health management is wellness apps that encourage users to maintain healthy lifestyles. Health dimensions of fitness, lifestyle, and nutrition are monitored through the mobile health system. With an increasing amount of patients adopting wellness options such as exercising, activity tracking, and nutrition monitoring, health goals are created and aspired toward. This form of mobile health app development is usually deployed in wearable devices. It allows users to store and use mobile health data for meaningful analysis.
Remote Health Monitoring: This form of mHealth and telehealth are used to manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Through agile technologies that ensure mobile health security, the mHealth system keeps track of blood glucose levels, pulse meters, oxygen levels, etc. The caregiver can monitor their patient’s health remotely, without the need for physical follow-ups. This form of e-health is also used to monitor blood pressure, heart rates, weight management, etc. Some forms of e-health apps also allow patients to answer relevant questions for doctor analysis and remote health management. Finally, recent eHealth apps also provide insights on health management.
Data Management eHealth Apps: Patient apps that allow users to store, update, and maintain their health data have emerged among the dominant eHealth solutions. This data can be shared with the caregivers via a secure platform through data security enablement on eHealth solutions. Images and data visualization technologies can be enabled through mHealth providers. In this manner, patients can store and view their medical information on demand, which includes lab results and prescriptions. Health accessibility is considerably enhanced through these mHealth tools.
Text and Video Communication: Fueled by the pandemic, patients have realized the convenience of virtual video consults and text messaging options that connect them to their caregivers. mHealth sensors further aid in the monitoring of vital signs that aid patients to take responsibility for their own health and schedule virtual appointments with the healthcare organizations accordingly. Along with the text and video communication feature, a mobile health monitoring system tracks the daily vitals or progress of the patient. With assured mobile health app security, there is a database of doctors to choose from.
AI in health apps: Combining artificial intelligence with mobile health technology can resolve several issues. AI can process a large amount of data rapidly and extract meaningful insights that can help in clinical decision-making. So, AI mobile health apps are much faster, more accurate, and cheaper that can improve care diagnosis and outcomes.
Chatbots: Medical chatbots are one of the next biggest healthcare trends. While this technology is built to help healthcare professionals, integrating them into mobile health apps can make it more useful, even for patients. Through medical chatbots, patients can be reminded to take medicines. They can even make drug references to help patients with specific drugs.
Self-monitoring apps: Another trend predicted to grow rapidly in the coming years is self-monitoring apps. Apps that can help patients detect specific diseases’ symptoms can benefit them immensely. Sometimes these apps are connected to wearable devices to identify the symptoms accurately.
Smart alarms: While wearables and mobile health apps are quite trending these days, smart alarms are next big in mobile health technology. For people, who have insomnia or just for regular patients, the smart alarm technology can notify the sleep and wake-up times. The technology will also analyze sleep and share insights to help users improve their sleep cycle.
Big Data: Big data-based mHealth apps can transform healthcare. As Big data-enabled apps generate large amounts of data, these apps can provide structured and unstructured data that can help make meaningful clinical decisions and lead to health innovations. Besides, these apps can also save more and improve the quality of care. From chronic care to fitness tracking, Big Data-based apps can most efficiently manage large amounts of data.
High Security: As mobile health apps generate large amounts of data, the risk of cyber-attacks is also high. Well, security breaches and cyber-attacks are known to impact the financial stability of healthcare organizations. So, mobile health technology providers and developers are concerned about its security. Alongside new developments in the mhealth technology space, focus on its security is another significant trend. It’s essential to ensure that mhealth apps are secured and safe from bugs and malware. This guarantees the safety of crucial health information as well.
As a healthcare organization, if you find yourself wondering about how to improve mHealth use in patients, there is already considerable progress in this domain. Over 65% of growth has been observed in the usage of mHealth apps over the past five years. The desire to take control of their own health is the dominating reason behind this growth. Now, with a raging pandemic across the world, doctors and healthcare organizations have also lapped up opportunities for virtual care.
As demand increases, mHealth apps are empowered to offer myriad services unlike ever before. Increasing security and regulation compliance have mitigated the risks and hesitancies involved in using these apps. To sum it up in a nutshell, healthcare organizations have to get on the mHealth trend to be able to stay ahead of the curve and address the contemporary demands of our age.
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Written by Riken Shah linkedin
Riken's work motto is to help healthcare providers use technological advancements to make healthcare easily accessible to all stakeholders, from providers to patients. Under his leadership and guidance, OSP Labs has successfully developed over 600 customized software solutions for 200+ healthcare clients across continents.