5 Ways Mobile Technology Can Change Healthcare
Just a few years ago people used calendars to schedule meetings, cameras to take pictures and alarm clocks to help them wake up in the morning. Now that’s just a few of the features that have all been incorporated into today’s cellphones.
If you’re like most American adults you own a smartphone. What if that phone isn’t only for playing Angry Birds, making phone calls or texting? What if it could improve your health? Cell phones are just one of many mobile technologies being introduced into modern care.
Here’s 5 ways in which mobile technology can potentially improve health care. If it hasn’t already, that is.
1. Increase Patient Compliance
Have you ever forgotten to take your medicine? It’s easy to forget when you have to remember to return that phone call, water the plants and congratulate your friend on his birthday tomorrow. Now mobile technology may help you with that.
One recent example is how an American digital health company got FDA approval of a smart-pill. This high-tech pill contains a sensor powered by stomach fluid. After you swallow the pill it uses the stomach fluid as a power source to send data (such as heart rate, body temperature, et cetera) back to a smartphone app used by physicians to monitor the patient’s condition. Now the doctor can not only see how you’re doing but also make sure you’ve taken your pill.
While this is a sophisticated solution, simple ones should not be underestimated. Texted reminders to take medication and come to appointments can potentially improve patient health just as well.
2. Improved Access to Health Information
Today patients have an easy access to general health information, but soon they may also have access to specific information regarding their personal health. Certain hospitals and healthcare professionals are encouraged to give patients mobile access to health-education tailored specifically for them, thus making it easier for the patient to follow doctor’s orders.
Some physicians also accommodate this by communicating electronically with patients, thereby giving them fast access to professional and relevant information. Hence mobile technology may in fact save you a trip to the doctor’s office.
3. Increased Hospital Efficiency
Hospitals require many forms of monitoring, not only patients but also equipment and environments. Many hospitals have recently seen a rapid implementation of mobile technology. For example by helping locate often-lost hospital equipment such as wheelchairs or IV pumps by mobile sensors.
Similar sensors can also be used to monitor aspects of sensitive environments, like the humidity in the operating rooms or help staff record when they’ve attended to patients. And even if they’ve remembered to use hand sanitizers.
4. Faster Diagnosis
Mobile technology often means increased speed and efficiency. This is important when it comes to making diagnoses and catching early signs of disease. With current technology this can be done by collecting patient-reported data right from a smartphone, which is then digitally sent to the doctor. Accurate data with no hassle.
A smartphone can also aid in diagnostics by sending magnified, high-resolution pictures to your physician with the help of a small add-on. By mounting a small device on your cellphone camera you can turn it into a dermascope and snap a picture. Send this directly to your doctor for a diagnosis, instead of visiting the skin-lab.
5. Improve Health Care in Developing Nations
The use of mobile technologies can prove a great help in developing countries. Often health care systems in such nations are overburdened and dealing with a shortage of health care workers.
Mobile technology could provide a better education for staff and improve efficiency. This could be useful when dealing with highly prevalent diseases like malaria, but also when it comes to ensuring safe child deliveries. A WHO study has found that training health care workers in Bangladesh reduced maternal mortality by as much as two thirds and stillbirths by 40%. This could have a tremendous impact on many people all over the developing world.
Another study has shown that charging their cellphone is one of the things people most often forget to do. Remember to do this in the future. It could save your life one day.