What is mHealth?

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The vast array of modern healthcare technologies can be daunting, so in these next few posts we’ll be introducing you to the world of mHealth.

mHealth, otherwise known as mobile health, is “the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives” as defined by the WHO. This includes using mobile technology for health education, treatment adherence, chronic disease management and remote monitoring of health conditions, to name a few. Given the wide range of applications and the increasing popularity of smart devices, mHealth has the potential to transform the way healthcare is delivered.

In fact, mHealth is already widely used and rapidly growing. The number of Americans who own smartphones is steadily rising and, along with it, the number of apps geared towards managing our health. According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans owned smartphones and roughly half owned tablets in 2018. And, as of 2017, there were over 318,000 health apps available on top app stores worldwide—nearly double that of 2015. Most of these apps are “general wellness” apps, but there are more and more apps directed towards managing health conditions every day.

In practice, mHealth can help healthcare providers increase productivity and communication. It can also empower patients by giving them more access to information. This has a range of benefits, including improving medication and treatment compliance. For instance, sending patients reminders about how and when to take medications or refill prescriptions, as well as messages clarifying peri-operative instructions (as STREAMD provides), can improve health outcomes and make the process easier and less confusing for patients.

The use of mobile technology in healthcare is on the rise, extending care beyond just the doctor’s office so that the power to manage your own health is at your fingertips. Next, we’ll be exploring whether mHealth really works and how effective it is at improving health and healthcare. Stay tuned!