mHealth poised to explode, expert says

By Diana Manos
02:50 PM

Mobile health, or mHealth, is poised to explode over the next decade, says Chad Udell, managing director of Float Mobile Learning, a mobile learning consulting, strategy and research firm based in Morton, Illinois.

“Wellness programs and at-home health monitoring are just exploding right now,” Udell says. “So much of this is due to the fact that people like mobile. Mobile is with us all the time. It has facilitated so much bi-directional communication, and it gives us constant connectivity in a very and meaningful way.”

[See also: Mobile health app market in growth mode.]

Float’s most recent quarterly report on mobile applications for wellness, home care, emergencies and hospital management reveals a trend toward “do-it-yourself” medicine, according to Udell.

Key findings in the report show a movement toward patient-centered healthcare, with mobile devices placing medical knowledge in the hands of patients to enable self-care or home care of others, Udell says.

Main categories of “do-it-yourself” medicine included in Float’s report are wellness apps that support prevention of medical problems and diseases, self-diagnosis and care apps that allow people to identify, treat or manage their own medical issues, and home care apps that support health workers or non-medical caregivers in taking care of a person at home.

According to Udell, examples of “do-it-yourself” medicine include:

  • The Instant Response iPhone app, which monitors a person’s health and automatically sends signals to first responders in the event of a medical emergency;

  • The Macaw app for iPhone and Android serves as an individual health hub, collecting information related to weight tracking, sleep management, glucose monitoring and more.?

  • The Calorie Counter app is synced to a database of nearly 1 million food products, and in addition to calculating the nutritional value of food choices, it remembers frequently purchased items.

“There has been a shift to an emphasis on wellness, prevention, self-care and home care as alternatives to hospitalization,” says Udell. “This has been further driven by the developments of new mobile technologies. All of this new technology could mean fewer visits to the hospital or doctor’s office, which would significantly reduce the amount of money spent on healthcare.”

[See also: Race is on for iPhone-like health IT apps.]

Current data shows that doctors are supportive of mHealth, according to Float, including:

  • Eighty-eight percent of physicians would like their patients to track or monitor their health at home, particularly their weight, blood sugar levels and vital signs.

  • Fifty-six percent of physicians using mobile devices say they expedite decision-making.

  • And two-thirds of physicians say they are using personal mobile devices for health solutions that aren't connected to their practice or hospital IT systems.

  • Doctors are 250 percent more likely to own a tablet than other consumers.

The “looming demographic bulge” of aging baby boomers is driving a movement to providing medical care in a person’s own home, whenever possible, says Float senior analyst Gary Woodill. “This is a much less expensive option than hospital care, and it will be one of the major initiatives to keep rising healthcare costs under control.”

 

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