During this time of year, colds and the flu run rampant, compelling more consumers and doctors to turn to mobile devices to close the gap in patient care. While mHealth still has a way to go to become a mainstream solution, doctors and patients worldwide are starting to see its benefits.
Now, about half of all doctors and a quarter of consumers use mobile health apps. Consumers are taking control of their health through solutions, such as the Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker to monitor physical activity and sleep, and are utilizing apps like WedMD to explore their symptoms. Remote health monitoring technologies, including the Healthcare Access Tablet by BL Healthcare and InTouch RP-Xpress, also allow patients to track and report on their health and enable video conferencing with a doctor.
These solutions are improving lives, but challenges remain before mHealth technology is more widely deployed across the United States. For example, while thousands of innovative solutions exist, many work independently of each other. For mHealth solutions to be most effective and widely adopted, doctors, patients, insurance providers and developers must collaborate to create a more interdependent ecosystem. Nearly half of doctors surveyed in a study believe that outdated government regulations from earlier technology are one of the factors holding back mHealth adoption.
Other countries face fewer restrictions. In fact, according to a report by PwC and the Economist Intelligence Unit, because of the scarcity of conventional healthcare options, approximately 60 percent of patients in emerging markets are more likely to use mHealth solutions compared to 35 percent of patients in existing markets. In developing nations, there is, on average, one doctor to every 250,000 patients, but these same countries account for nearly 80 percent of all mHealth subscriptions worldwide. In many cases, mobile technology is the only affordable tool that can reach these patients.
We are just scratching the surface of the potential of mHealth technology. Its impact can already be seen around the globe – from allowing seasonal flu sufferers to check their symptoms to enabling patients in developing nations to receive care from miles away.