mHealth to the rescue

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Bringing medical care and wellness to the most remote areas!

mHealth is the practice of using mobile technologies in medical care and public health.  The adoption of mhealth is growing at a rapid pace: not surprising given more than half the worlds population has access to mobile phones.   While initially, the goal was to educate users about wellness, today the smart phone does much more!  In fact, I am amazed at how much it has impacted me personally.   My phone has my “medicalID” which can be accessed by a medical professional in an emergency, all my medical records are electronic and in-person “waits” have turned into immediate video call appointments with the doctor.   Of course, too much data has hurt me too – my wifi enabled scale records my weight every time i step on it and my watch records my exercise so i can no longer wrap some small lies when i meet the doctor 🙂 But these are first world problems. 

What really gets the world excited that this could be the first and the most important step towards making healthcare accessible to every remote corner of the world.  Obviously, access to medical care needs more than just the physician.  It needs medical facilities, instruments, laboratories but yet, meeting the doctor certainly is the first step towards making care available.

If economics and demographics are the driving forces in home health care, technology is the engine revolutionizing how it is being delivered.  Three things are the foundation behind this revolution: 1) ubiquitous wireless network connectivity, 2) widespread use of smart- phones, and 3) a growing array of connected, sensor-enabled devices that can measure and track a variety of personal wellness data.  According to IMS Health, more than 165,000 mobile health or “mHealth” apps are available in the Apple and Android app stores.(Source: Journal of mHealth Dec 2016). 

However,  the mHealth industry is just at the base of the arduous climb ahead so I want to share my views of the areas of focus for this industry:

First, “human care” requires that the app be designed and developed with ease of use in mind while keeping the pulse on HIPAA regulations.  This is where human-centered design philosophy is critical even if the mobile app is merely imparting education.  Second, curating content is extremely critical so that app is relevant when needed.  After all, half information about our health is dangerous! Third and most important, it must be a requirement for users to allow recycling this user data back to researchers.  This data could unlock the cure to the most stubborn diseases known to mankind.  For example, an asthma control drug app that requires the user to record a peak flow two times a day and record any side effects could go a long way in improving the efficacy of the drug in the future. 

I believe that your mobile device will be your personal wellness co-ordinator in the future ensuring that you follow your meal plans, keep an active lifestyle and remind you to take your medicines on time.  Now if only my mobile phone could exercise for me, we would be all set!