Saturday, May 10, 2014

mHealth - Connected Healthcare - Reduces costs, Increases Accessibility

mHealth (mobile health) is a general term for the use of mobile phones and other wireless technology in medical care.

Embedded mHealth solutions can improve the lives of millions of people and help address some of the most significant healthcare challenges in the world today. One of the biggest challenges facing societies worldwide is how to make high-quality healthcare affordable and accessible for all. As the population expands in developing countries and ages in developed countries, the world is spending an increasingly high proportion of its gross domestic product on healthcare.Governments, individuals and private insurers worldwide are urgently seeking more cost-effective ways of preventing and treating chronic diseases and other debilitating conditions.The widespread use of mobile connectivity in healthcare could significantly cut costs, increase the reach and accessibility of healthcare services and reduce the impact of illness on people's lives. To accelerate the development and adoption of embedded mHealth devices and solutions, the GSMA is engaging with the wider ecosystem and working with key players to understand their needs and to reduce the barriers to adoption.

The most common application of mHealth is the use of mobile phones and communication devices to educate consumers about preventive health care services. However, mHealth is also used for disease surveillance, treatment support, epidemic outbreak tracking and chronic disease management. mHealth is becoming a popular option in underserved areas where there is a large population and widespread mobile phone usage. 

Embedded mHealth solutions can improve the lives of millions of people and help address some of the most significant healthcare challenges in the work today. The world is already spending around US$ 6 trillion each year on healthcare. 

By 2030, the World Diabetes Foundation estimate 438 million people, approximately 7.8% of the adult population, will live with diabetes; mobile delivers the opportunity to help them manage their disease and ultimately help reduce the spiraling costs of chronic disease management. 

It is estimated that $175-$200 billion in chronic disease management costs could be saved each year by remote monitoring solutions. Mobile health solutions provide a real opportunity to help healthcare providers deliver better, consistent and more efficient care, and to empower individuals to manage their own health more effectively.
File:Mobile phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants 1997-2007 ITU.png
The mHealth solutions bring the following benefits:

For patients and society:

  • Automatic health monitoring
  • Prevention through continuous care and lifestyle coaching
  • Better and faster treatment
  • Elderly and ill can live at home rather than in a nursing home or hospital
  • Greater life expectancy
  • Fewer absences from work
  • Lower health insurance premiums and lower public spending on healthcare

For healthcare providers:

The mHealth Grand Tour is looking to help stimulate innovation and demonstrate how solutions can help in the prevention and management of diseases.

  • Fewer hospital visits and more efficient use of clinicians' time
  • Earlier intervention enabling better and more cost-effective treatment
  • Access to more and better information about a patient's condition and lifestyle
  • Improved communications with patients
  • Better management and understanding of epidemics and disease

While others exist, the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation report presents seven application categories within the mHealth field.

  • Education and awareness
  • Helpline
  • Diagnostic and treatment support
  • Communication and training for healthcare workers
  • Disease and epidemic outbreak tracking
  • Remote monitoring
  • Remote data collection
Emerging trends and areas of interest in mHealth
  • Emergency response systems (e.g., road traffic accidents, emergency obstetric care)
  • Human resources coordination, management, and supervision
  • Mobile synchronous (voice) and asynchronous (SMS) telemedicine diagnostic and decision support to remote clinicians
  • Clinician-focused, evidence-based formulary, database and decision support information available at the point-of-care
  • Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Integrity & Patient Safety Systems (e.g. Sproxil and mPedigree)
  • Clinical care and remote patient monitoring
  • Health extension services
  • Health services monitoring and reporting
  • Health-related mLearning for the general public
  • Training and continuing professional development for health care workers 
  • Health promotion and community mobilization
  • Support of long-term conditions e.g. diabetes self-management
  • Peer-to-Peer Personal Health Management, for telemedicine

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