The usefulness of mobile health tools is growing as more patients are using apps and devices to monitor their health. However organizations need to make sure they fully support these tools to ensure they are successful.
– Organizations are adopting more healthcare mobile health tools as those tools are developed to help patients be more involved in their own personal health. These mobile tools can help clinicians more accurately understand how a patient behaves in day to day life, and how that behavior impacts her overall health.
Mobile health tools have tremendous potential to improve patient care and clinician workflow, according to a recent Change Healthcare report. The researchers polled over 2,000 healthcare professionals including C-level executives and directors.
Respondents indicated current mobile health tools’ impactful uses and what the most impactful uses will be in the coming years.
Wellness apps and fitness trackers were cited as the most impactful (50 percent), with telehealth (46 percent), health monitoring devices (41 percent), secure text messaging (35 percent), and location services (32 percent) following close behind.
Diagnostic apps had the most significant difference between current and future usefulness of mobile health tools. The current usefulness of diagnostic apps is just 13 percent, the lowest out of all uses. However, diagnostic apps are expected to have the most impactful use of mobile health technologies, with almost 80 percent of respondents believing that diagnostic apps will transform healthcare.
“This optimism arises from a belief that mobile technologies will continue to improve their ability to help patients self-diagnose, and help patients determine whether they should engage a medical professional— either in the real world or via telehealth (which itself could be integrated into the diagnostic function),” said report authors.
While the potential use of mobile health tools is significant, there are obstacles preventing these tools from reaching their full potential today. For example, consumer adoption is relatively challenging.
“Healthcare leaders continue to be disappointed by weak consumer adoption of mobile and digital health tools,” report authors explained. “Few would be surprised to see security and privacy emphasized as major factors for this, and this was pointed to by nearly half of survey participants (49 percent).”
Other consumer adoption limitations include limited functionality (35 percent), confusing apps (34 percent), system interoperability (33 percent), healthcare literacy (32 percent), lack of data transfer (14 percent), and accuracy of mobile and digital health tools (11 percent).
These consumer adoption limitations will lessen over the next several years as organizations find ways to overcome them. Better securing patient data and improving encryption will help users feel more secure sharing their health information.
Increasing network visibility will also give entities more control over their network so they can better secure devices that are accessing the network from outside the facility.
Using mobile tools for tracking wellness and to diagnose patients will have a significant impact on how patients address their personal health and how they interact with their clinicians.
Clinicians can ask patients about their diet, how much sleep they get, or how often they exercise. Patients can underestimate how much unhealthy food they eat or overestimate how much sleep and exercise they get, which can make it difficult for a clinician to accurately understand what may be causing the patients trouble.
These tools will allow clinicians to look more at what human factors impact patients and how that information can be used when developing an individualized care plan. This will become especially significant as these mobile tools and the data they collect contribute to population health.
Using these tools for better patient outcomes will cut back on patient return visits and give patients the ability to better monitor their health so they can ward off preventable health issues.
Making steps to better support mobile health tools will help improve patient care and give clinicians and patients better access to data that can improve patient health.