All these can be done through applications available on smartphones and tablets from remote locations. mHealth solutions offer huge benefits when properly designed and implemented. For e.g. they make it possible to deliver better healthcare care at lower cost, reduction of costs for healthcare systems, expansion of various types of healthcare software development services, support for outcomes. It also helps in empowerment of patients to take greater ownership of their health. The success of mHealth is linked to intense pressure to deliver good care outcomes within increasingly tight budgets.
There are some sections of people in the care industry who have questioned whether mHealth can actually effectively contribute in a convincing manner for non-communicable diseases like screening / diagnosis, retention and follow up, system’s co-ordination. It’s currently estimated that there are 40,000 mobile health applications that are providing wireless users with unequalled access to information and capabilities. The market is becoming comfortable with telemedicine technology and even demanding it. The savings that have been proven to be achievable by the introduction of mobile working are difficult to be ignored.
mHealth technologies faces some issues and challenges in its implementation. To start with, one of the major concerns has been that of having to optimize the user interface in order to ensure that users have an error free and convenient working experience. There are other issues like network connectivity, access to a central server, coordination of individual devices with a central coordinating office and systems integration.
Some researchers have also indicated that in low and middle incomes countries, there is seems to be lack of evidence to indicate the improved benefits, both in terms of operational and better healthcare, of using mHealth services. Protection of data is also a matter of concern. Since the system makes it possible to store, access and transmit sensitive personal data of patients, it is highly imperative that necessary actions are taken to ensure that data is secure and unauthorized individuals are not permitted admittance. There is an Act brought in place to handle this concern. It requires data transmission to be encrypted and secure to prevent it from being intercepted and accessed. Also it has made it mandatory to encapsulate the information so as to ensure that people had restrictions, given their nature of interaction in the care process, to accessing sensitive patient information.
Moving beyond the promise and the hoopla created around this field, mHealth by all means can only meet its potential if it were to be fully integrated into general health programs i.e. the various pilots phases have to be give way to wider and bigger scale of implementation and subsequently acceptance at regional and national levels. Having said that, there are a few essential elements which have to be made available for this field to succeed. Two most important amongst those are internet connectivity and ubiquitous access to information. The other important factors include secure data handling, options for social networking, availability of web and native applications and most importantly training to the stakeholders involved in the roll out.
Also, with time as mobile health systems move towards scale the current set of guidelines and strategies need revision to reflect the new demands of the changing landscape. There needs to be more affirmative actions on the part of the government and leadership of e-health programs for not only development of capability and capacity but also its adoption and implementation. For e.g. in US, regulatory guidelines have put mobile apps that control devices critical to a patient’s health or measure factors, such as vital signs, have been subjected to fall under federal oversight whereas fitness, wellness, and medical resource applications are not.
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Impact of mHealth on Healthcare