mHealth: Drawing Nearer to Patient Engagement

Transitioning the burden of health care from the system to the patient has raised many questions along the way, not the least of which centers on what roles mobile devices ultimately will play in lowering costs and improving the quality of patient care.

Having written about mHealth since shortly before the term was coined, I recall how, from the earliest discussions of healthcare reform, the industry has upheld nothing but the highest of hopes for these devices.

This faith was well placed; smartphones have proven not only smart but incredibly versatile, with ever-expanding capabilities that are positioning them as legitimate diagnostic tools at the point of care. Meanwhile, MCAs, tablets, 2-in-1s, and other devices continue to find their places in health care settings, just as wearable tech is emerging as a hot topic.

And while we’re all wowed to some degree by headlines spotlighting mobile’s staggering growth potential—Lux Research now projects an eight-fold spike in the mHealth market by 2023 to be driven by clinical device adoption—it’s the more subtle transitions taking place that underscore mobile’s place in a future that hinges on patient engagement.

Just think back to some of the biggest trends coming out of HIMSS14: the personalization of mHealth, as expressed through the launch of the Personal Connected Health Alliance; mobile privacy and security, which wouldn’t have drawn such a huge audience if the technology’s future role weren’t a given; payers promoting mobile apps as a way to give health consumers the tools they need to manage their health; vendors championing mobile EMR platforms; increasing talk of wearable tech and the connected home.

Individually, these shifts bode well for the specific mobile technologies underpinning them. More importantly, however, their collective power to shift the burden from the health care system to the patient is undeniable—and it’s becoming more real with each advance.

The nature of the practice of medicine ensures the viability of mHealth. The nature of mHealth supports the transition to patient engagement. Success in this regard is largely a function of education and the passage of time.

What questions about mHealth do you have?

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

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