Mobile technology, or mHealth as it’s commonly referred to, is shaking up the healthcare industry. Not only does mHealth make it easier and more convenient for patients to seek healthcare, but it also helps providers and healthcare organizations save valuable time and money. Why is mobile tech making a buzz in the industry? Let’s find out.
What is mobile technology?
Have you ever heard of a patient portal? Or wearable technology? How about electronic health records (EHRs)? If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then you’re at least a little familiar with mobile technology in healthcare. But what is it really?
Mobile technology in healthcare refers to the usage of smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other handheld devices that provide healthcare support, ease of access to records, improved systems, a better quality of patient care, treatment adherence, and more. When broken down a little further, there are two types of mobile tech. While they’ve began to merge a single path for future development, the types of mobile technology in healthcare are:
- Devices, applications, and services designed for treatment and patient care
- Devices and wearable technologies designed to enhance the healthy lifestyle and monitor the fitness activities
As a significant part of the healthcare industry, mobile technology has the highest potential of growth development for the future.
How is mobile technology being leveraged in healthcare?
Patient healthcare is currently going through a consumerization phase, which means providers are now focused on bringing care to the patient rather than having the patient find their own healthcare. Because of consumerization, more healthcare providers are focusing on convenience, service, easy access to care, and more to make up a positive customer experience.
Through consumerization, mobile technology has become increasingly popular with healthcare providers, facilities, patients, family members, and other caregivers. Take a look at all the different ways mobile technology is being leveraged in the healthcare sector:
- Patients with acute conditions can use mobile technology to get a diagnosis and treatment plan, securely confirm an appointment, track and analyze health data through wearable technology, and more
- Care managers and nurses utilize telemedicine apps to conduct virtual visits with patients who have chronic conditions
- Surgeons use healthcare technology to send patients pre- and post-operative questions to check in
- Healthcare workers of all fields and specialties use mobile technology to communicate quickly, share patient data, and manage healing and wellness in new convenient and efficient ways
Used daily by specialists, nurses, lab professionals, patients, caregivers, and family members, the popularity of mobile technology in healthcare shows no indication of slowing down. In 2019, about $1.23 billion was invested in mobile health worldwide and by 2025, those funds are expected to increase to $247 billion.
There are more than 325,000 mHealth apps available that patients can easily download on any smartphone, tablet, or laptop to help them schedule appointments, check lab results, email providers, or receive targeted information on a specific condition. There are five kinds of mHealth mobile apps:
- Clinical or diagnostic apps that gather, evaluate, and share information
- Remote monitoring apps send vital signs, blood pressure readings, or oxygen levels directly to a healthcare provider
- Clinical reference apps offer reference materials such as digital access to coding
- Productivity apps give clinicians access to remote dictation, internal communication, scheduling, and more
- Healthy living apps track weight loss, diet, exercise, hydration, and beyond
According to the American Medical Association, nearly nine in 10 healthcare workers see an advantage in using digital health tools. Plus, 81 percent of American adults support the increased access to health providers and information that comes with mobile technology, further proving the fact that mobile tech in healthcare is here to stay.
What’s the impact of mobile technology in a healthcare setting?
Mobile technology in healthcare poses many benefits for physicians, nurses, therapists, patients, family members, other caregivers, and more. Not only does mobile tech effectively connect patients to providers in a quick and affordable way, but mHealth also allows healthcare workers to upgrade how they work so they can provide higher quality services and treatment for patients. Essential for health systems and providers to collaborate across specialty and facility lines to care for patients as a team, mHealth improves patient outcomes and lowers the cost of care.
In addition to added convenience, affordability, and ease of access, mobile technology in healthcare has many items in the pro column:
No. 1: Creates faster communication channels and decreases response time
Communication is vital in patient healthcare and can even be life or death in some situations. Mobile technology in healthcare allows for faster communication and response time for healthcare providers working together. For example, with the help of mHealth, physicians can receive test and lab results the instant they’re ready.
No. 2: Streamlines practice management and increases efficiency
Between the hundreds of patients seen each day and the general chaos that comes with the fast-paced healthcare environment, it can be a challenge for healthcare facilities and providers to stay organized. Luckily, mobile technology is here to help improve the workflow and practice management within an organization.
Here’s how mHealth helps healthcare professionals:
- Offers easy access to patient data on the go
- Provides instant access to patients’ prescriptions and other vital health information
- Fosters collaboration with other healthcare workers
- Helps to effectively manage upcoming appointments
Here’s how mHealth helps healthcare administrative staff:
- Easily collects patient data, including signatures and documents scans
- Coordinates engagement with insurance providers, suppliers, and other third parties on the go
- Reduces room for an administrative error
Here’s how mHealth helps improve healthcare workflow:
- Increases document processing speed
- Enhances administrative accuracy
- Boosts overall efficiency
Mobile technology in healthcare goes well beyond patient care. Sure, mHealth allows healthcare providers and patients to connect more easily, but it also works to improve how healthcare professionals work and stay organized.
No. 3: Keeps patient health information safe and secure
When it comes to mobile technology in healthcare, many people have concerns about the level of security that protects their sensitive health data. While you may hear rumors about the inefficient safety of health data, the reality is your information is specially protected from data breaches.
All healthcare records must comply with data protection regulations, privacy policies, and other applicable laws depending on the state. So, yes, electronic health records (EHRs) provide easy online access to patients’ diagnoses, prescriptions, allergies, intolerances, previous treatments, hospital stays, lab reports, surgical interventions, and other relevant health information, but that data is safe and well protected.
No. 4: Keeps users on top of their prescribed treatment
You wouldn’t believe the number of patients who check out of the hospital just to end up there again because they didn’t follow their prescribed care instructions. Let’s just say it’s a bit.
To avoid being one of those poor folks, use mobile apps to set-up reminders so you never miss a medication, appointment, prescription refill, or new treatment rule. MHealth puts patients in control and empowers them to follow through with their detailed care instructions.
Not only can patients take advantage of the reminder feature on mobile apps, but so can caregivers. App reminders are helpful for caregivers to be reminded to regularly check up on patients, keep up with their recovery status, or follow up with patients who suffer from chronic conditions.
No. 5: Advances real-time remote medical monitoring
Wearable devices made their way into the heart of Americans many years ago, and now, you can find them on more than 80 percent of consumers. Wearable technology was designed to enhance the healthy lifestyle and monitor fitness activities of patients. Based on body-sensing technology, wearable devices can significantly improve the efficiency of a workout and lead patients towards better health outcomes. Think Apple Watches and the FitBit.
Wearable mobile technology in healthcare not only benefits the patient, but also the healthcare provider by:
- Securely monitoring patients’ daily activities and at-home recovery process
- Comparing data from different patients and making informed risk assessments
- Discovering new disease-related insights
- Suggesting preventative treatments based on disease-related insights
- Saving time and resources with remote communication and monitoring
If you haven’t heard, wearable medical technology is all the rage. They have the power to improve your health outcomes, send data to your healthcare provider, and more.
Mobile technology in healthcare has made life easier for patients, healthcare providers, and institutions. Through advanced technology, mHealth has been integrated into our society and it’s here to stay. As a healthcare traveler, it’s important you remain in the know when it comes to new technology, tools, and techniques. Be the best healthcare provider you can be and integrate mobile technology into your own healthcare practices.