Mobile technology has created a whole new paradigm for healthcare delivery and practice. Mobile Healthcare - also known as mHealth - enables providers, practitioners, patients, payers and pharma to connect in a never before way. The ubiquity of the mobile phone is being aptly exploited to bridge the communication divide that has plagued the healthcare landscape.
This shift is being driven by the combination of greater smartphone adoption, mobile internet penetration and a spurt in healthcare applications
There has been a dramatic growth in the use of mobile applications for healthcare, the market for which is estimated to reach US$1.7 billion by the end of 2014. Also 500 million of a total 1.4 billion people with smartphones are expected to use health applications by 2015.
mHealth connects patients and doctors and provides peer-to-peer communication. Applications exist for needs such as access to medical content to more sophisticated ones those aide providers and patients in disease management, tracking clinical trials, patient monitoring, ambulance-based tracking and many other services. One such application is Medscape, a free application which provides more than 7,000 drug references, 3,500 clinical references for diseases, 2,500 clinical images and procedure videos, CME activities and much more. This list is only likely to grow as the concept evolves. Creativity of application developers, mainly third-parties, could spawn a range of applications that could make the lives of patients and doctors easier than ever before.
According to astudy by PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute, mobile technology holds great promise for keeping people healthy, managing diseases and lowering healthcare costs. It helps doctors take decisions faster based on complete and more accurate data in real-time provided by mobile devices. Different types of applications like remote monitoring, prescribing medication wirelessly, accessing electronic medical records (EMRs) wirelessly and many more also help both providers and consumers.
mHealth will play a key role in improving healthcare outcomes while cutting costs, with well-integrated partnerships among technology developers, device makers, policy makers, academic institutions and NGOs. However, providing mHealth in low and middle income countries may not be as easy as compared with developed countries due to small scale implementations and pilot projects with limited reach.
The cover story in this issue of Asian Hospital & Healthcare Management provides experts' insights on the impact of mobile devices on healthcare and also discusses applications of mhealth to demonstrate the change in healthcare landscape.