Can mobile devices improve overall healthcare outcomes?


In order to improve patient treatment outcomes, hospitals and other medical care providers should continue to leverage more mobile technology, according to featured presenters at the HealthBeat 2013 conference.


According to VentureBeat, mobile app developer Mark Gehring and Ivor Horn of the National Children’s Medical Center, spoke about how devices such as cellphones could be especially key for treating asthma and obesity among lower income populations. Considering that Canada is expected to soon have more wireless devices than people, the potential reach of a cellphone-based healthcare initiative is significant, and it could be the key toward providing better care to at-risk communities.


“The key is recognizing how people use technology,” said Horn, according to VentureBeat. “Over 80 percent of patients in underserved populations are willing to receive information via mobile or text, and over 90 percent wanted access to their health information and are open to sharing it back and forth. The two main issues are trust and self-efficacy – the ability to feel like you can accomplish what you want to accomplish is really important and that the information comes from a reliable source.”


Using cellphones to treat obesity

The benefit of a mobile health or mHealth initiative, Gehring and Horn said, is that it makes preventative care a more proactive effort. By using technology to empower patients early on to take better care of themselves, the likelihood that he or she will experience more severe complications in the future can be decreased. In particular, the duo noted the technology’s benefits for dealing with obesity-related issues. According to the most recent research from the University of British Columbia, obesity rates are rising to historic levels in Canada, with the highest observed rates in the maritime provinces and the territories. Considering that obesity, if left unchecked, can lead to complications such as heart disease and diabetes, the benefits of a preventative care model empowered by mobility are significant.


Increasing cellphone usage in medical care settings could also lead to patients being more trusting of doctors and nurses. One of the major issues in the healthcare field is that providers have no way of knowing if the patient will adhere to medical advice and follow the recommended regimen. However, a Harris Decima survey from last year found that Canadian adults are more likely to trust their primary care physician if the doctor is accustomed to using computers and mobile devices to look up and share medical information.


Overcoming the adoption barriers

Although mHealth purports to offer innumerable benefits, it also presents many challenges for care providers to overcome. For one, many hospitals and doctor’s offices would likely need to overhaul their existing IT infrastructure in order to support the introduction of many new devices and operating systems into the technology ecosystem. In addition, the proliferation of end points with medical information is a major compliance and security concern.


To address these issues, medical care facilities should turn to a managed IT services firm like FlexITy. By taking a holistic and comprehensive view of existing needs, FlexITy ensures that the implemented data migration, data protection and compliance solutions are just what a healthcare provider needs to provide the best patient care possible.