Four Trends to Watch in mHealth

The Four Trends to Watch in mHealth are Waiting for You.

Mobile phones have quickly taken hold of the U.S. Back in 2004 only 65 percent of American adults owned a cellphone, but by 2014, ownership rates jumped to 90 percent.

Mobile technology has dramatically impacted not only daily life in the U.S., but it’s also revolutionized various industries, including the healthcare industry. With mobile phones, healthcare providers can use mobile devices to communicate with patients, gather critical patient health data, or offer educational insights. mHealth or mobile health is an exciting new field, and since mobile technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s important for health providers to keep up to date with the latest health trends. Here are a few of new mHealth trends to monitor.

1. The Internet of Things

This year, 5.5 million digital devices will be included within the broader “Internet of Things” or (IoT). The IoT, according to Forbes, deals with the idea of connecting a diverse range of devices (including common household items like appliances to more complicated electronics like personal computers or healthcare devices) so that each digital item can quickly and easily rely information to one another almost instantaneously. The IoT would simply serve as a large-scale network of interconnectivity, allowing countless devices to relay data at blistering speeds. When it comes to healthcare and the IoT, mHealth experts believe that with this network, mHealth devices could transmit important data (like biometrics) from a patient’s workspace or home to a healthcare provider in the blink of an eye, providing monitoring efforts on a daily, if not hourly, basis. The IoT is expected to grow too. By the end of this year according to a Gartner, Inc. forecast, there will be over 6.4 billion connected devices in use around the world.

2. The Increase in Health Data

As to be expected with the rise of the IoT, there will also be an extreme increase in overall health data flowing around the world in the near future. In fact, the digital universe — the digital space that includes all data, ranging from patient health information to web data and more — is currently growing at a rate of 48 percent each year, according to Emc.com. Remarkably, by 2020, the total amount of healthcare data floating in the digital universe is expected to climb to 44 zettabytes — that number will only continue to climb as more healthcare providers and clinicians use mobile devices in the workplace.

For example, when at work, clinicians spend 40 percent of their time using some type of mobile device, such as a mobile phone or tablet. As the healthcare segment of the digital universe progressively grows, and as clinicians continue to use mobile devices in the workplace, the importance of properly assessing and organizing all of this information will also rise as well. The universe will be filled with patient satisfaction assessments and risk test assessments, and it will be up to healthcare providers to sort through all this raw data and make sense of everything. Once they’re able to do so, healthcare providers can start exploring new healthcare trends, establishing new parameters for patient care.

3. Growth of the Mobile Health Market

As to be expected, as the amount of mHealth data increases, the overall size of the mobile health market will continue to grow. It’s estimated that the mHealth market is currently growing at a rate of 33.4 percent on an annual basis, and it’s estimated that by 2020, the mobile health market will hit $59.15 billion in value. Healthcare experts are optimistic about the effectiveness of the mHealth market. According to a GreatCall survey, 40 percent note that new mHealth developments could help to lower overall patient visits, and well over 90 percent note that new mHealth technologies could help to improve patient health on a wide scale.

4. Text Messaging

Not all mHealth trends deal with analyzing patient data — one of the most important trends relates to simple communication. Traditionally, when a healthcare provider needed to communicate with a patient, they might do so by setting up an in-person appointment or by calling the patient. However, most Americans view texting as their preferred form of communication. Remarkably, 81 percent of cell-owners text, so healthcare providers should consider using texting as a means of communication with patients. With mHealth technology, a provider can text a patient medical updates, offer reminders about upcoming appointments, or even rely critical healthcare data — and all of this goes straight to the patient’s phone.

It doesn’t matter where the patient is — at home, work, or wherever — as long as they have their phone and have a cell signal, they can interact with their healthcare provider nearly anywhere on the planet. With texting, providers can share important information sourced from analyzed healthcare data groupings directly to a patient, and the provider can also use texting to gradually improve a patient’s healthcare behaviors. Providers can use texting to answer healthcare questions, remind a patient to take their medicine or avoid certain behaviors, or they can simply check in with the patient to make sure that they’re on the right medical course.

mHealth will revolutionize healthcare in the U.S., and by keeping up with the latest trends, healthcare providers can use the newest mHealth tools to deliver efficient, high quality healthcare options to the broader American public.