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Section 508

October 21st, 2016

Is Mobile Being Used Effectively in Healthcare?

For many people in the UK, remembering the dosage and when to take medication for example can be a real challenge. There are many factors that can slow progress to recovery, often resulting in added pressure on the UK healthcare system. Doctors are also becoming increasingly interested in the science of chronotherapy – aligning medical treatment to our circadian rhythms i.e. your body clock. The article on the BBC website back in May 2014 gives two examples, one patient diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the other with rheumatoid arthritis.

“We have found chronotherapy is reducing the toxicity of treatments and improving the quality of life of patients, by respecting the circadian rhythms of the patients.”

“These cells each have their own clock, and their inflammatory response varies depending on the time of day. Even when we remove them from the body and look at them in a dish they still keep a day/night rhythm.”

This vital information that can contribute to the effectiveness of medication and prescriptions is not yet being monitored or shared with local doctors.

Can mobile be used more effectively to solve some of these challenges?

Building mobile medical applications is becoming a rapidly growing area, with a lot of space to expand in the market. As highlighted in the article from Business Insider “Internet of Things in Healthcare: Information Technology in Health”:

“That sort of disruption is evident in the healthcare sector, where the pen and paper has been the primary means of recording patient information for decades. But now, healthcare technology is changing in major ways.”

“The Internet of Things is slowly starting to weave into healthcare on both the doctor and patient fronts. Ultrasounds, thermometers, glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, and more are all starting to become connected and letting patients track their health. This is crucial for those situations that require follow-up appointments with doctors.”

Doctors are beginning to incorporate mobile apps into their practices to be more effective and efficient. A small percentage of patients are using them to monitor specific aspects of their health, fill in gaps in their medical care, and take more responsibility for their well-being. Both doctors and patients are finding that mobile apps can provide a fast and efficient way to stay in touch and exchange information.

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has been quoted saying “Perhaps the most profound change iPhone will make is on our health”.

Apple has invested heavily in the healthcare sector. In 2014 it released a new app and developer platform called HealthKit, with a key component being able to collect people’s health data such as heart rate to create a whole picture about a user’s health. Apple also launched ResearchKit, a framework for developers to create apps that voluntarily collect user data for research. CareKit is another of Apple’s platforms designed specifically for patient-doctor apps.

So the signs are positive.

Mobile technology has changed everything. It is only through mobile you can capture the social context of consumption, offer augmented reality and accurately measure your audience. There was an article in the Guardian back in 2014 called “10 Ways Mobile Is Transforming Health Care”. It declared that 2014 will be the year mobile became mighty in healthcare. Even with all the investment from Apple, I still don’t think that has happened yet.

I wanted to list what those 10 items were;

1. Increased Mobile Usage – 91% of adults have their mobile device within arm’s reach 24/7.
2. Apps – Mobile health apps can be divided into two categories: wellness and medical; 85% of apps are for wellness, designed to be used primarily by the consumer and patient, and the remaining 15% are medical, used by physicians.
3. Location – Location-based content delivered through methods such as push notifications enable patients and physicians to receive relevant information at the right moment, based on their geo-location.
4. PersonalizationMobile enables consumers, patients, and physicians to have a more personal, ongoing experience.
5. Wearable TechnologyThis category’s explosive potential for growth in the healthcare space can’t be ignored.
6. Video as a Constant CompanionMore and more patients and physicians are viewing video content on the go and using it as an information source for diagnostic, drug purchase, and prescribing decisions.
7. Increased Data and AnalyticsBetter data quality means better health decisions and better patient outcomes.
8. Electronic Health Records – Electronic health records have the ability to create a sea change in healthcare.
9. Quality Content – More services to compliment the benefits of their therapy through mobile experiences.
10. Better Small-screen Design – A design experience that utilizes the device capabilities, such as touch, gyroscope, and accelerometer, is becoming increasingly important in making the interaction with health content that much more immersive.

The pharmaceutical industry is driven by revenue, not patient care. I attended Digipharm 2016 in London earlier this month, where leaders of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country raised the suggestion of moving from selling products (medicines) to services (using mobile). Imagine a world where all medicines are free, it was the service offered to support those medications that generated revenue, insights, patterns and data. How much more value does that add?

DMI are currently working on innovative pilots within the healthcare sector, using sensor technology to spot physiological changes in the body to predict and prevent flare ups of various conditions. In the US we have also launched a cloud hosted solution for patient medical records.

We are looking to team up with the innovators, visionaries, strategists who can see the potential of mobile in healthcare, but are not quite sure how to apply it. If you are an expert within the healthcare field and struggle with some of the items raised in this blog, please do get in touch and we would be happy to collaborate.

Finlay Mure, Senior Business Development Manager, DMI International

Tags: healthcare Mobility Strategy wearables

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