As healthcare services evolve with the rise of mobile technologies, more people ask, what is mHealth? mHealth, or mobile health, is an emerging facet of health services that utilizes mobile phones and other mobile devices.
The proliferation of mobile phones has drastically changed the world we live in. Mobile devices allow users to directly collect and monitor their own health data, transforming patient expectations and healthcare delivery.
This post will explain mobile health and how healthcare providers use it to provide more comprehensive health services.
Understanding Mobile Health Technology
The term mHealth refers to the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices, such as personal digital assistants and patient monitoring devices, in health care delivery.
Mobile health apps are also an essential part of mobile health.
According to the World Health Organization, mobile health is medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices. While mHealth effectively communicates with the public and educates them on health services and preventative health care, it can be used for so much more.
mHealth, supported by mobile devices, can be utilized for treatment support, disease surveillance, chronic disease management, and epidemic outbreak tracking. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of mobile technology to healthcare systems and public health organizations.
What Is the Difference Between mHealth and Telehealth?
While conceptual overlap exists between mHealth and telehealth, the two terms are not interchangeable. The primary difference between telehealth and mHealth is that mHealth is exclusively delivered through mobile technology.
Typically, telehealth refers to videoconferencing between a patient and a doctor or nurse. While telehealth visits can utilize remote patient monitoring devices and a user’s mobile phone, it is not exclusive to the mobile platform.
The Benefits of mHealth
There are several benefits associated with mobile health. Mobile health technology has transformed how healthcare professionals deliver care and track a patient’s health. The top benefits of mHealth include the following:
- Improved communication
- Access to more health data
- Public health tracking
Perhaps the most significant benefit of mHealth is the convenience it provides patients and healthcare providers. For instance, patients can track and manage health data and vital information without seeing a doctor.
In addition, filling prescriptions, making appointments, and other tasks that used to be time-consuming on the telephone can be done with the click of a button on a mobile application. mHealth is giving patients and providers more time to focus on health care.
Ultimately, convenience can drastically improve health care outcomes when barriers to care are significantly reduced and access to information is expanded.
mHealth makes it easier for patients and their providers to communicate. By reducing or eliminating communication barriers between health providers and patients, mHealth can improve health outcomes and provide important public health notices.
Improved communication is vital in developing parts of the world that have less access to medical care. The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated the importance of public health communication as medical guidance shifted as more data was collected and the disease was better understood.
However, mHealth is not just beneficial for patient and provider communications. Providers must communicate with one another to provide the best possible care for their patients. Most people see several different healthcare providers.
mHealth improves communications between providers and ensures that each provider comprehensively understands a patient’s health data before treatment.
Access to More Health Data
mHealth and wearable devices give users more access to their health data than ever. Access to health information makes managing chronic conditions easier and helps patients take greater preventative control of their health, diet, nutrition, fitness, etc.
When patients have access to their health information, they can make informed treatment decisions, have informed conversations with their health providers, and make decisions based on their health needs and goals.
Ultimately, access to data is empowerment. Patients empowered to make health decisions based on data will only improve their health outcomes.
Public Health Tracking
mHealth can greatly aid the effort to track public health. While the global COVID-19 response was uneven, mobile health technologies greatly aided health experts and researchers as they tracked the disease.
When the next pandemic arises, mHealth will be far better positioned to track public health and aid policymakers and health officials. Public health tracking is a critical service in the developing world, where diseases like Ebola can quickly spread.
The Disadvantages of mHealth
The benefits of mHealth far outweigh the disadvantages. However, it is essential to highlight some of the challenges associated with mobile health, including:
- Inaccurate information
- Privacy issues
The primary problem that can arise with mHealth is inaccurate health information. For example, some health apps claim to provide blood pressure readings by just placing a finger on the screen of a mobile phone.
The data provided by these apps can be wildly inaccurate. It is crucial to understand how a health app gathers and calculates information. There is a vast proliferation of health apps, some are very good, and some are very bad.
Problems can arise when patients use apps that don’t offer accurate information. Always make sure you speak with a health professional regarding your health applications, especially if you are monitoring a chronic issue.
Not all mHealth apps are HIPAA compliant or use health information in the manner you might expect. As a result, it is important to carefully vet a health application before using it. If you are unsure how your data will be used, don’t give an application access to sensitive health data.
HIPAA is in place to protect you. Always ensure you are using a HIPAA-compliant health application before sharing your health data.
mHealth is an exciting technology for health care. If your business wants to get involved with mHealth through application development, contact an experienced MedTech app development partner like Koombea to learn more.