How Mobile Apps Are Changing Healthcare

Nearly every day there are technological advancements in healthcare, whether it be through innovative machines and devices that improve the efficiency of surgeries, hi-tech database systems used for medical reference and research, or fully functional, man-made organs for transplant.

And now even mobile apps have become a major game-changer in the healthcare industry.

We all use smartphone apps, usually for some sort of social or entertainment purpose, which is why at first they might seem too simple and arbitrary to have a true impact on healthcare as a whole. However, according to Research2Guidance, a global mobile app industry consultancy and market research firm, there are already more than 100,000 health applications with over four million downloads per day, and the mobile healthcare market is expected to be worth $58.8 billion by the end of 2020.

Apps are being developed by all kinds of innovators, from your typical device manufacturers, to researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, as well as traditional health care providers. The applications range from measuring tools that can connect to devices to calculate blood pressure and glucose levels, to electronic databases that store patients’ records, to social platform-like apps where patients can video chat with their doctors.

Much of the health app technologies have in fact been around for quite a while but never caught on due to patient engagement and accessibility concerns by providers. But as William Johnston III, M.D., a urologist at Chicago’s NorthShore University HealthSystem, points out, "Patients are mobile, so this makes it easier to keep accurate records and get them to the physician." 

One could easily argue that everyone is mobile these days. Thus the acceptance and transition to a mobile health system has resulted in “real-time visibility, increased productivity, greater efficiency, and enhanced accuracy,” which then leads to lower costs and overall  better healthcare for patients.

An example is the emerging trend amongst physicians of using iPads. It’s first and foremost convenient: it allows doctors to monitor patients without being physical present, gives them quick access to EMR and diagnostic tools, and it’s easily portable, small enough to fit into certain lab coat pockets.

One iPad also only costs around a third of the price of a laptop with the exact same capabilities. Considering over 60 percent of physicians report regularly using a tablet for professional purposes, the added cost savings can be huge. And this is before even considering the real health costs, the savings technology brings with its improvements on the efficiency and effectiveness in treating patients.

Change is difficult, and providers’ initial resistance to adapt to mobile healthcare is understandable. But the benefits from implementing mobile technology are undeniable. And based on technology trends, mobile use will not only persist, but will continue to increase. For the sake of operational efficiency and quality of care to patients, the industry would be wise to continue to adapt and to embrace this technology.

Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.

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