The Global mHealth Boom
March 26, 2014
There are close to 100,000 healthcare related apps today in the market
Today there are mobile apps for just about anything. But what’s gaining popularity is the global market for Mobile Health or mHealth. There are close to 100,000 healthcare related apps today in the market. From apps that tell you when to take your medication to physicians using mobile devices to improve patient care; mHeath is the fastest growing area in the health IT space.
Where mHealth is headed
A recent study conducted by Grand View Research expects mHealth to reach $49B by 2020. The study cites that the demand for health is expected to increase in the next six years because healthcare costs are rising. As a result, more people are becoming accountable for their health and the healthcare sector is looking to improve health outcomes. In addition to smartphone proliferation, uptake of 3G and 4G networks is expected to drive the demand for telemedicine services, according to the study.
Improving patient engagement
Hospitals are beginning to use mobile devices to better inform and guide patients about care once they’ve been discharged. For example, a team of clinicians at Mayo Clinic designed an iPad app to help cardiac surgery patients and their families participate in the pre and post surgery process. The in-hospital pilot consisted of 149 cardiac surgery patients aged 52 to 85. Each patient was given an app called MyCare to help improve patient communication. The app shows patients and their families a personalized “Plan of Stay,” laying out on a calendar when each part of the prep, surgery, and recovery is due to happen. The app also includes educational modules through each step of the process.
Treating high-risk patients remotely
New partnerships between technology companies, insurers, government agencies and health providers are emerging to better help the higher-risk patients. The American Heart Association partnered with Qualcomm Life on a Connected Heart Health initiativethat uses wireless technology and evidence-based care plans to improve post-acute outcomes for patients with cardiovascular diseases.
AlereConnect, which develops remote health monitoring devices partnered with George Washington University Hospital to secure a$1.9 million Innovation Grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) that funds research to help treat patients on dialysis. The devices enable physicians to determine whether a patient needs early intervention in order to reduce overall hospital stays and costs.
Physicians and pharmacies joining to streamline care
WellDoc, a healthcare company that uses technology to improve disease management outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, received $20 million in funding from Merck GHI Fund to continue with its FDA-approved mobile app for Type II diabetes called BlueStar. A pharmacy gets the doctor’s prescription, adjudicates the claim and forwards it to WellDoc, which sets up BlueStar for patient and doctor. It is able to deliver messages to the patient’s mobile device and provides physicians with regular updates and clinical decision support tools.
MediSafe is a medication management platform that leverages the power of family and friends as a support system to help improve medication adherence. When a user doesn’t take medications on time, an alert is sent to family members or friends who can then step in as reinforcements to ensure medication is taken so people aren’t admitted to the ER for non-adherence side effects.
mHealth is clearly the wave of the future and key to patient engagement and better communication. Mobile health is not only helping to improve clinical outcomes, it is also lowering overall medical costs. And with more than half of the American population owning smartphones, it should be easy for consumers to embrace the technology, making it a seamless tool for healthcare institutions to implement it into their care models to increase efficiencies, reduce costs and most importantly, improve health outcomes.