The impact of digital technologies on healthcare is huge. From the digitization of health records (EHR or Electronic Health Records) to new devices aiming at improving or monitoring health in the personal sphere and improvements in the practice of healthcare itself: it’s clear that we haven’t seen anything yet when it boils down to the many applications and situations in which health, healthcare and digital technologies meet each other.
On top of what is yet to be fully explored (the Internet of Things, big data analytics in healthcare, etc.) there are also very tangible evolutions. Among them: the ways technology is used to make healthcare more accessible in areas where this is/was hard before, the various ways organizations try to focus more on the patient (patient-centricity) and the usage of technology by healthcare workers.
Although there are still many challenges in all the mentioned areas (the adoption of EHR, for instance, leads to numerous questions and is slowed down by a range of issues, not in the least regarding funding – and politics – and in the area of security, confidentiality and privacy), digital is changing the face of healthcare.
Mobile healthcare in practice: benefits and challenges ahead
One of the many domains where we certainly see this happening is mobile health. It’s often used in the previously mentioned context of accessibility but also in the ways both patients and healthcare workers “go mobile“.
Healthcare solutions company Healthx summarized some of the evolutions and data regarding the impact and usage of mobile technology in healthcare (in the US). Based upon multiple resources and after some data about mobile as such, the infographic goes more in-depth, looking at some areas where mobile health is used, such as:
- Finding physicians.
- Viewing claims.
- Care coordination and wellness.
These relate with what Healthx offers (the company focuses on solutions for healthcare payers, not for patients or healthcare workers as such) but of course there are many other mobile health use cases, far beyond just healthcare payers. Again, just think about how healthcare workers use mobile devices (from consumerization in the healthcare workforce to coordinated mobile applications across hospitals or healthcare providers and mobile access to patient records) or remote healthcare in several countries where the penetration of mobile devices is high and the accessibility of “phyiscal” locations hard, for instance because of location or the economy).
Maybe the most interesting part of the first infographic, pictured above, is the part where Dr. Yael Harris is quoted, stating that “Mobile health has the potential to revolutionize health care by transforming the patient-provider relationship”.
Changing these relationships is at the core and in the end part of a more patient-centric approach. Patient-centricity: it’s not a buzzword as the demands from people – patients – are clear. However, in practice it’s not always easy to realize, especially as what patients want and healthcare workers want or focus on first is not always the same. Mobile healthcare certainly is changing healthcare and has a huge potential but there is still a long way to go until the benefits are embraced and challenges tackled.
In another infographic, Healthx looks at how smartphone owners use their devide to research health and medical information, the rise and nature of mobile health applications and mobile healthcare portals. Below is that second infographic.