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Mobile Healthcare: Transforming the healthcare delivery

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Gone are the days where a doctor digs into the pile of a patient’s case history files, reads through it and writes the prescription on a piece of paper and hangs it on the patient’s bed. Most of the paperwork in the healthcare industry today is replaced by handheld devices or computers. The advent of mobile devices and multiple apps that facilitate easy operations and reduces the workload on healthcare professionals has brought in a transformational change in the healthcare industry.

Healthcare is an industry that has been impacted largely by the introduction of new mobile medical devices. June 2012 Manhattan Research/Physician Channel Adoption Study found that doctors’ ownership and use of mobile devices is pervasive, with 87% using a smartphone or tablet device in their workplace, compared to 99% who use a computer1.Surveys have shown that around 80% of physicians use an iPhone while most of the remainder opt for Android smartphones.

Major drivers for the quick adoption of mobile devices by healthcare professionals include:

  1. Voice, text and video communication capabilities.
  2. Easy storage, archival and updating of medical records.
  3. Quick availability of informational resources such as textbooks, notes, guides, research findings and videos.
  4. Software applications that aid diagnosis and treatments.

 

Health care professionals use mobile applications for multiple purposes. One such purpose is healthcare record maintenance. Every patient while in hospital generates huge amounts of data in various forms such as lab results, prescriptions, X- ray reports and scanning images. Storing the data in multiple formats, updating it regularly and easy retrieval is a challenge. Multiple apps are available today on apple and android platforms helping doctors take informed decisions faster. Also, some companies have developed specialized apps for remote viewing of image scans.

Mobile devices and health apps assist in a broad way for remote patient health monitoring of individuals with chronic health disorders. A mobile app can help monitor the entire bed of the patient based on the vital sign indicators. The alarm is raised based on the severity of the condition. Mobile GPS systems are used to track the chronically ill, elderly patients and those with a mental disorder who show a tendency of forgetting the place they belong to.

Beyond the functions mentioned above, mobile devices are contributing in educational and training fronts as well. Students and healthcare professionals are increasingly relying on mobile devices for textbooks, research articles, journals, and medical podcasts and training sessions. It’s also frequently used by professionals to double-check the processes and procedures involved in diagnosis and treatment. This reduces the time by cutting off the unnecessary test procedures and mitigates the risk of taking wrong diagnostic decisions. Healthcare professionals also use mobile devices to keep themselves regularly updated about the happenings in the healthcare industry and ensure learning happens on the go.

Healthcare wearables also have evolved over the years. The Global Wearable Healthcare Market was worth $3.3 billion in 2015 and estimated to be growing at a 17.7% CAGR, to cross $7.8 billion by 20202. One such innovative wearable developed recently for knee pain relief comes with Bluetooth technology and compatible on iOS and Android operating system. The electrode placed inside the brace gives pain relief for over 40 hours after the battery is charged.

The proliferation of mobile devices in the healthcare industry and its quick adoption by healthcare professionals has made mobility ubiquitous. Both practitioners and patients have gained their benefits. Despite having constraints such as internet connectivity and GPS reliability for seamless information exchange, mobility has come a long way in changing the dynamics of the healthcare industry and has contributed largely to its advancement.

  1. iPads and other drugs. Medical Marketing & Media: The Interactive Guide, 2013
  2. Global wearable medical device market growth trends and forecasts 2015-2020, prnewswire.com, 2015

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