mHealth – It’s Not Just Another Buzzword

Business people with happy face postersFrom selfie sticks to Fitbits and iPhones, technology needs and customer priorities continue to evolve every day. And, with time, it’s inevitable that many of today’s hot tech items will fade into temporary fads — as what’s popular today may no longer be relevant for tomorrow, especially in healthcare.

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Though many trends and hot topics in technology may be fleeting (anyone remember MySpace?), there is one current trend in health IT that is here to stay: mHealth.

According to the World Health Organization, mHealth is defined as “the medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistances and other wireless devices.”

How do we know mHealth will be important for the future of healthcare?

Although there have been a wide variety of advances in technology that have drastically changed the healthcare industry over just the last couple of decades, mHealth has been perceived as a more trendy concept (or fad) – rather than a powerful technological force with the ability to revolutionize the way patients experience care.

However, in a recent market research report, Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review estimated that the global mHealth market will reach $20.7 billion by 2019; making mHealth one of the biggest technological advancements in the past decade. Figures such as these point to the fact that mHealth is not just a trend, but – on the contrary – will have a growing and tangible impact on the healthcare industry.

And with a booming market, mHealth’s presence will only continue to grow as we look into the future. The idea of using our mobile devices to go beyond monitoring care to being able to manage it will certainly change the future of healthcare.

Now, the question is how this idea of mHealth takes shape in the way that people receive healthcare. Although the most common definition refers to how it has been used to monitor a variety of health conditions for patients (e.g. blood pressure or diabetes monitoring), perhaps one the most important aspects of mHealth’s future impact on patient care lies within communications. In addition to using mHealth to monitor various conditions, for example, mobile health can also be utilized for patients to conveniently communicate with their providers for a number of reasons.

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mHealth has already allowed patients to ‘cut the cord’ from the clinic, so to speak, by using the devices they already have to monitor their health conditions (with physician supervision) from home. Now it’s time to take the next step and make the clinic virtually available via mobile by enabling instant communication with their provider.

mHealth Comes to Life in a Twin Cities-Based Hospital System

While mHealth is still in the beginning stages of growth, there are already real-world examples of its impact.

North Memorial is a Twin Cities, Minn.-based healthcare system with two hospitals, 16 primary care clinics and multiple specialty centers serving a large patient base in the Metro area. As needs changed, North Memorial wanted a method for communicating with its patients in a way that was familiar and convenient for them: mobile devices.

Early in 2016, North Memorial implemented a system where patients could schedule an appointment with their provider any time by texting the word “CARE” to the number provided. Once the text was received, a secure URL was sent back to the patient, which opened an encrypted chat window with a clinic representative to discuss their healthcare needs.

Through the ability to communicate with healthcare providers in an efficient and familiar way, patients at North Memorial started to recognize that mHealth made it easier for them to gain access to and accept care.

With the always-present need for care and access to numerous solutions within healthcare, it’s important for hospitals to start thinking about the ways they can make mHealth a part of their patient experience equation—as we know it’s not just a temporary trend, but becoming a way of life.

Read More: Why Continuing Communication Matters →


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