Smartphone = Smart Healthcare?
By: Maggie Wirtanen
More people reportedly have access to mobile phones than to clean water, according to the nonprofit Tides Center that runs openmhealth.org. Assuming this is true, the implications of “mHealth” -- the health information management through mobile devices -- could be far reaching. Wondering what mHealth is exactly? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines it as “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.”
Sound unlikely? Not really. Chances are you already manage some aspect of your care using mHealth. If you’ve ever downloaded an app like “Calorie Counter” to see how many carbohydrates those daily peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches account for or if you’ve ever been online to see if it’s OK to yank out your daughter’s loose front tooth, then you’ve discovered what it is that comprises mHealth.
While mHealth provides a promise of health hope, it currently stands as a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Consider that there are some 40,000 mobile apps downloadable for use. Which is best? Which is reliable? Are any of the services substantiated as helpful? Well, in fact, the FDA has become involved and requires that any medical app company making a health claim seek FDA approval. This, however, is where things become complex. FDA approval takes substantial time and money and both of these could act as stopping points in new development.
“mHealth: Healthcare Goes Mobile,” globaldata.com, August 2012
“Mobile Health 2010,” pewinternet.org, October 2010
“The Socio-Economic Impact of Mobile Health,” Telenor Group, April 2012