The World Health Organisation defines mHealth "as medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants, and other wireless devices".
mHealth specifically focuses on the use of mobile devices to collect patient data and deliver this information to clinicians. The use of mHealth technology has become most prevalent in developing economies, where individuals, particularly in rural communities are more likely to have access to mobile phones, but to care facilities and local healthcare provision. In areas of Africa, the number of doctors per patient can be less than 1 to 10000 and with 5 billion phones in the world, the potential benefits of self-care via mobile devices are abundant.
Examples of mHealth Companies:
"CardioNet is the world's leading supplier of Mobile Cardiac Outpatient Telemetry™ (MCOT™). CardioNet provides the next-generation ambulatory cardiac monitoring service with beat-to-beat, real time analysis, automatic arrhythmia detection and wireless ECG transmission. CardioNet prides itself with helping clinicians prevent morbidity, mortality and disability with rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients with cardiovascular disease"
"We're a passionate team dedicated to health and fitness who are building products that help transform people's lives. While health can be serious business, we feel it doesn't have to be. We believe you're more likely to reach your goals if you're encouraged to have fun, smile, and feel empowered along the way"
The Future of for mHealth
One of the biggest challenges for mHealth is the question of data misuse and patient privacy. Data leaking and sharing scandals have become a staple side-effect of the 21st digital revolution. The app builders have direct access to patient data, while in a physical hospital setting this would be subject to confidentiality, however, there are concerns that this is susceptible to misuse. App developers can also face challenges from the regulatory side.
Regulatory bodies (such as the HIPPA) have prevented developers, in certain cases from developing apps that can directly solve patient-specific issues. As healthcare systems face an unprecedented demand for their services, mHealth can be part of the
21st-century response. But there are clear challenges that need to be discussed if it is to become a solution.
mHealth has an important part to play in meeting the healthcare challenges of the 21st century. To meet the innovators making this happen, check out our DigiHealth Leaders event, taking place later in the year!