Given the growth in the number of Smartphone users and the proliferation of applications…
What can keep #mHealth from having greater impact in the future?
The answer to this question is directly related to the ability to measure the efficiency of this new way of delivering health care in specific contexts.
It is essential that we look seriously what results to be obtained for specific pathologies. We must document and conclusively demonstrate in which cases this new technology actually works.
Having a fitness App doesn’t mean you’re an athlete; having diabetes App on my Smartphone doesn’t mean either that my blood glucose level will drop and I will be suddenly stable. These Apps should be accompanied by a change in the behavior of those who acquire them, and equally important is to feel motivated to do so, knowing that when used, their referring physicians are monitoring them remotely for example.
Furthermore, hospitals and their chief information officers (CIOs ), should prevent this new source of patient-related data related from becoming a silo of information, aside from those already generated within their facilities.
CIOs shouldn’t forget that health care occurs beyond their organizations (hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers … ) and that more and more devices will be linked to the Smartphone for data logging, blood pressure monitoring, accessing to information and communication with care providers.
They shouldn’t forget the fact that this trend is gaining impact within the sector and the need to incorporate it into their future plans.
In 2014 healthcare organizations must understand and accept this new reality where patients carry with them a bunch of health-related information (records of blood glucose, blood pressure, weight…), in addition to the information each center itself can generate throughout the care process.
What challenges must reach the # mHealth next year 2014?
All this will result in 5 major challenges we must not lose sight of throughout 2014:
1. Major infrastructure and better standards: infrastructure systems to integrate these new information flows must be enhanced on the one hand, and cover more territory on the other hand. Patients do not only live in big cities, but outside them too. In #mHealth distances are no longer a handicap as long as connectivity is guaranteed.
2. Integration and analysis of the Computerized Medical Record (EMR): With this volume of data flying through the digital world it will be essential to organize all this information and achieve a meaningful view. If hospitals built dashboards for decision- created within their spheres of action, they could thencontact patients when something is not going well in the course of his illness, and anticipate their needs. The coming years will see increased integration of data generated by #mHealth in the clinical history of patients.
3. Tools for physicians to improve decision-making: The recording and analysis of these new data will lead to the development and use of new tools for health care professionals for making more efficient, successful and economically optimal decisions. We can follow online with a tablet the evolution of chronic disease patients (such as diabetics), and contact them if necessary, for example. As soon as these new tools will bear positive results, more professionals will trust them.
4. Out of the office and within households: From the perspective of patients, their health care does not end when they leave the hospital, and especially if it is chronic patients (diabetes, hypertension…). Facilitating transactions related to the management of their disease to help them take better care of themselves. Making possible online consultations with their doctors, or request for quotes from your Smartphone, etc. And if open lines with care teams are possible, then these will also help them better care for their illness.
5. Gamification to improve health: The ultimate way to motivate people to care for their health, through games whose prizes are bound to promote healthy behaviors such as eating a balanced diet, or quit smoking, stop drinking … the goal is to empower people a little more, make them aware of their illness and the care, directly affecting their pockets (eg discounts on the monthly health insurance).
Depending on how these challenges are faced and solved, the impact of #mHealth in our sector will vary significantly.
I consider essential that once demonstrated in its efficiency and impact on aspects such as:
- The quality of life of patients.
- The decision-making professionals.
- The optimization of certain health care costs.
- The service coverage of the population in the territory
There won’t be any excuses to invest with determination to incorporate this new technology into our health system.
Common sense tells us that such investment should consider these 5 challenges, taken as a roadmap for decision makers at the level of health policy, CIOs and CEOs in the health sector.