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Mobile Health Technology: The Hope of Tomorrow or The Threat of Today?

MHeath is seen as a solution granting patient freedom. Not too much freedom though.

What Is mHealth Technology?

Mobile health technologies have transformed the essence of healthcare management and service delivery. Regardless of whether you know what a mHealth app is or not, it is everywhere. It is in a chatbot that helps patients recovering from cancer prevent a recurrence. It is in a blood test management app where patients store their blood test results. It is in a mobile drug information database, which people use to read instructions for a certain medicine. 

Growing more serious, mobile devices in healthcare reached the scope of the World Health Organization. Recently, the WHO developed an app to facilitate elderly care in developing countries.

For instance

OneRemission is a chatbot-based mobile application. It is a one-of-a-kind solution in the Integrative Oncology field, which brings cancer survivor care to a new level. Being one of the major apps in the area, OneRemission helps users organize their diet, training, sleep, and stress management. This technological solution saves time and effort. It also increases the effectiveness of the preventative strategy. As you see, OneRemission is a bright example of how healthcare mobile technology saves lives.

So, what is a brief definition of mHealth technology? Exploring the term, you have to consider the two key aspects of mobile health systems: health practices and mobile technology. The two allow healthcare providers to elaborate on effective custom healthcare solutions. It makes patients’ experience with medicine more pleasant. It is more comfortable to manage your health information on the mobile phone, isn’t it?

Generally, mobile health technology comprises all the mobile software tools aimed to facilitate or optimize medical and self-care. And there are a lot of them, from apps collecting data concerning health conditions to the ones measuring pulse. Another question is their quality, which usually is far beyond satisfactory.

Statistics retrieved from Statista, Orbis Research, TechJury, HealthWorks Collective, eVisit.

So, What Are the Advantages of Mobile Technology in Healthcare?

Mobile health technology grants users freedom.

The freedom to choose the most suitable healthcare provider. The freedom to learn about diseases or treatments. The freedom to keep track of their health. You can be sure: the increasing demand for digital health services expands the availability of mHealth apps.

Earlier, healthcare facilities were the primary source of medical knowledge. Now, with a mobile device in their pocket, patients do not have to stand in line to schedule an appointment. They do not have to pile up medical papers as all the information is stored in a mobile healthcare platform. More than that, they do not have to adjust their schedule for meeting with a doctor as they can contact them anytime via telemedicine systems. Indeed, with the advantages of technology in healthcare, patients’ opportunities are only expanding.

Mobile health applications can be integrated with IoT.

The era of visiting a doctor to record the electrocardiogram or to measure blood pressure is almost over. This need is fully substituted with opportunities provided by wearable technology. Fitness trackers now measure heart rate, blood pressure, breath pace, and even sleep quality. Phone notifications help users control their health and prevent adverse outcomes. With the integration of the IoT solution, the process of health facilitation becomes double effective. After all, IoT developers provide people with the opportunity to store vital healthcare data in a mobile phone.

For instance

The brightest example of it is Apple with its Apple Watch. Today, it has become an indispensable part of customers’ healthy lifestyle. The device gives essential information on heart health. Apple Watch controls heart rates and collects data about untypically low or high heart rates. In case of a severe underlying condition, it notifies a user. Furthermore, experiencing unusual symptoms, Apple customers have the chance to capture an ECG. In the long run, the availability of the mentioned tools reduces the risks of overlooking symptoms.

Yes, Apple Watch does hold the top place in this market. But it does not mean that the niche is full. There are plenty of opportunities to break into this market segment. Namely, you can implement a more personalized approach here. Think about the categories of people who particularly feel the need for daily healthcare assistance. Of course, the elderly come to your mind first. So, you may develop mobile solutions for healthcare targeted at the elderly. What about tracking not only their vitals but also movement? In case of an emergency, the system would inform caretakers and the nearest ambulance.

Consider the commercial side of the issue: mobile technology helps healthcare providers optimize their business processes.

It reduces bureaucracy, improves customer relationships management, and optimizes data management. It can be used to enhance the performance of the HR Department, Marketing Department, or the Finance & Accounting Department. In the background of climate change, reducing paper waste is another benefit of mhealth technologies. The electronic database allows medical institutions to save both workspace and the environment. To put it simply, the number of benefits of mobile technology in healthcare is countless.

For instance

Here goes an example of a Hospital Marketing Administration System. Unfortunately, we cannot disclose the name or show any visuals. This web-based application enhances the job of a front-desk developer, a marketing specialist, and a business consultant. From the consumers’ side, the software ensures assistance at all stages of the medical experience. It helps to engage potential clients, turn them into actual patients, and retain their trust. Hence, why not make this app mobile and use the benefits of mobile health technology?

What Are the Risks?

Mobile technology allows for too much patient freedom.

Referring back to the benefits of mHealth, I have mentioned freedom as the number one advantage. Yet, measure is a treasure. Some users may think that they do not need a doctor anymore. They can google all the symptoms and treatments, buy medicines online, or go for traditional healing. Such a misconception is particularly risky because self-medication can be dangerous. People try to give themselves diagnoses or to cure their alleged disease with improper medicine. As a result, they lose valuable time. In the worst-case scenario, they can worsen their health condition with harmful treatment.

The thing is, doctors consider each particular case separately. They pay attention to the peculiarities of people’s health. As for now, mHealth apps are targeted at a broad audience. They are unable to detect all the specifics of one’s body and the physiological differences among users. It becomes difficult to define whether the measures suggested by the mobile apps are safe in each specific situation. If to neglect this issue, the risks associated with self-medication will outweigh the possible benefits of mobile devices in healthcare.

Another challenge is the lack of medical expertise and practical regulatory aspect.

Imagine that you hire a software development agency with no experience in mHealth development. Undoubtedly, the quality of your future app will suffer a lot. And so will your budget because the research stage, as well as testing and debugging, will take by a few times more time. The best way to prevent such outcomes is to deal with responsible and competent developers.

As for the regulatory aspect, it also impedes technological progress in the medical field. Doctors might rely on one electronic database, while patients do not. Since the latter have no access to this solution, they make use of different mHealth technologies. Such a situation leads to discrepancies in the information available for medical workers and patients. To enhance the effectiveness of technological solutions for healthcare, developers should integrate data for both sides.

Besides, data safety is the most serious mHealth challenge.

No patient wants their health information to be spilled. This data is often very sensitive. Unprotected health information increases the risks of the data breach. The leakage of it is bound to cause severe issues with reputation and mental well-being. On the one hand, a patient might experience social pressure since many diagnoses today form the ground for stigmatization. On the other hand, the situation might be impeded if the data record is not only disclosed but also lost. 

Losing access to one’s health information causes psychological difficulties. It adversely affects the course of subsequent treatment. For more about how patient privacy is ensured and why it is important, read our recent article on Healthcare Data Security.

To Wrap Up

What is mobile healthcare technology? Mobile healthcare technology is the future. 

Today, more and more businesses and service providers use mobile technology to save time and money. Mobile technologies change the conventional understanding of healthcare provider-patient interaction. The acquisition of medicine-related knowledge becomes more dynamic and effective. 

As for the potential of the field, healthcare app development is an area characterized by huge prospects. As mobile devices grow faster and more powerful, the applications that they use will become more sophisticated and useful. The opportunities are countless — the sky is the limit for your ideas.

Are there benefits of mobile devices in healthcare that you can think of?

Do you have an idea for a mobile health app?

Let us prove our expertise in healthcare software development. Read more about the services we offer and the challenges we solve.

Alex Pletnov Kate Novak Head of Partner Engagement

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