Mobile Health, mHealth, Digital Health, eHealth, Connected Health, etc., etc. You've probably seen each of these monikers headlining articles from industry rags to mainstream publications in the last year. But why should all the buzz matter to health professionals?
What exactly is ‘mobile (m)health’ and what possible difference can it make to a highly trained, experienced, practitioner who has been working directly with patients every day, for many years, where the rubber meets the road, without any fancy “tech”? Indeed, this is a worthy question worth some exploration!
What is mobile health (mHealth, Digital Health, etc)?
Although self-styled experts (like me) can quibble over subtle differences in definition at their core they all describe a similar concept: The digitalization of health-related information for use in personal health or care processes.
If you’ve read my articles before you’ve probably noticed I use the terms “mobile health’ and ‘mhealth’ fairly liberally--and not just for keyword rankings! I use these terms because they have great relevance to what we do at Nudge.
Our chief focus at Nudge is to make data from mobile health apps and devices accessible and usable for health practitioners.
The mHealth Evolution--Revolution
The great success of mobile health thus far has been its ability to empower consumers to play a meaningful role in their own health. By using devices enabled with accelerometers, GPS and a myriad other fun tracking technologies, consumer-generated health data is flooding into the world at an astounding rate.
- 64% of American adults have a smartphone
- More than 50% gather health related information on their smart phones
- Over 20% of Americans own a wearable technology device (Already!)
Consumers can now review their own health data, anywhere from steps per day to heart beats per minute in hopes of using it to improve their health status ... although currently the vast majority of the devices and data are being used by fitness enthusiasts and athletes looking to optimize their performance, not really for healthcare purposes.
We at Nudge believe mhealth has a higher calling … a greater potential to impact our world than to merely help optimize the peak performance of runners and cyclists. We believe a mobile health revolution is upon us!
Consider the facts:
- > 80% of healthcare practitioners use smartphones and medical apps.
- > 70% use their smartphones and tablets to access drug interactions.
- > 60% access medical research from smartphones and tablets.
- > 50% collaborate with their colleagues using their smartphones and tablets.
So it appears that a growing majority of both patients and providers are using smart devices and technology on a regular basis, independent of one another. Given the interest on both sides, wouldn’t it just make sense to connect the two? After all, I think we can all agree that lifestyle habits are the most significant predictors of overall health, yet they have always been the most elusive because (historically) they’ve been impractical to measure, monitor and manage.
Good News For mHealth Believers
We are at a turning point in the mobile health experiment. We are nearing a time when consumer (patient) demand will require health practitioners across the board to actively incorporate new technologies. The evidence is overwhelming that the entire world is going digital, so it stands to reason that healthcare is moving in that direction too. If you’re a health practitioner you have two choices: either embrace it or risk extinction. the value is becoming more plain to see each day!