The healthcare industry has been slowly moving towards a digital revolution since before 2014, the first-year healthcare providers were required to use electronic medical records. Most healthcare delivery, however, remained in-person until 2020. The COVID pandemic changed it all – and quickly. In-office care was the only option for most healthcare providers before the pandemic. In 2019, about 22% of physicians offered telehealth compared to 80% in 2020.
While the healthcare industry may have been slow to adopt telehealth before 2020, patients were already primed for it.
Over 66% of the world’s population has access to digital devices. In the US, that number rises to over 71%. The technology boom created new ways to communicate, monitor, remind, educate, and care for patients already embracing technology. Cell phones, tablets, and the wealth of information on the internet have brought health and wellness into our homes. By one report, there are over 350,000 downloadable health apps available for digital devices.
And it’s not limited to telehealth appointments or smartphone apps. Mobile health, also known as mHealth, is quickly becoming the preferred way for patients to access their health records, communicate with providers, track fitness, launch telehealth visits, and manage medications and conditions.
What Is Mobile Health, and Why Is It Important?
Mobile health is any healthcare or public health information delivery through digital devices. It’s a way to take healthcare out of the office and bring it directly to patients in the comfort of their own homes or offices.
Some of the more common uses for mobile solutions include:
Remote consultationsVirtual visits connect patients to their providers in place of an office visit. Patients are no longer limited to visiting specialists in the same geographic area.
Electronic health records (EHR)An EHR is a digital chart containing a patient’s medical history, current conditions, medications past and present, test results, and communications with healthcare providers. EHRs make patient health records portable and readily available to various healthcare systems.
Mobile data trackingPatients can use health and fitness apps to track personal health information or automatically send data to their healthcare providers. Many connect with wearable devices to automate tracking and analysis.
Wearable devicesFitness trackers and smartwatches are popular wearable devices that track personal health data. There are many options at different prices levels, and they’re so available that you’ll even find them in grocery stores.
Some mobile healthcare services require specialized equipment from your healthcare provider, while others are more accessible to anyone with a digital device, including:
- Cell phones
- Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
- Patient monitoring devices, like connected scales
- And other wireless devices
Some of the data they can track includes:
- Fitness levels
- Vital signs (heart rate, respiration rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, temperature)
- Blood glucose
- Sleep cycles
- Medication compliance
In or out of the home, this is valuable data for managing your health and well-being.
Why Is Mobile Health Important?
Mobile healthcare plays a vital role in delivering care and improving access to care. It is changing the face of healthcare by:
- Engaging patients
- Empowering patients to take control of monitoring their health
- Compensating in some ways for the shortage of healthcare workers
- Reaching patients who have limited or no access to healthcare due to location, lack of transportation, or mobility challenges
- Connecting to specialists who provide care not available in a patient’s immediate area
We can only treat patients we can reach – mobile healthcare extends that reach to improve lives everywhere.
How Do Doctors and Patients Benefit from Mobile Health Technology?
Mobile health technology is changing how we use our resources and communicate within the health system while making resources available to more patients. Some of the benefits to patients and healthcare providers include:
Swift Access to Urgent CareMobile health gives patients instant access to send secure messages, view their electronic health records, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and initiate telehealth visits.
It makes healthcare more accessible and convenient, erasing the need for patients to take time off work to drive to and from appointments. And patients surely don’t miss long wait times in crowded waiting rooms. By one account, office visits cost 121 minutes of patient time, compared to 16 minutes for telemedicine appointments.
Easy and Remote Patient MonitoringRemote patient monitoring (RPM) brings healthcare into the home, allowing patients to collect and enter personal health data manually or automatically and transmit it to their healthcare providers.
With the data provided by RPM, healthcare providers can monitor patients between visits and coordinate further care if the data shows they need intervention. This technology is especially beneficial for managing chronic conditions, monitoring medication compliance, and as a starting point for meaningful patient education. According to a Business Insider report, RPM is successfully reducing hospital readmissions.
Increased Patient SafetyDigital technologies can increase patient safety in several ways, including:
- 1. Improving compliance. Noncompliance is a common and complex issue in the US. There are many reasons for it and very little that healthcare providers can do about it once a patient leaves their office under traditional healthcare models. Mobile healthcare services like patient portals or medication apps can send automated reminders, track compliance, and provide customized education to patients in their own homes.
Mobile healthcare also provides tools for improving medication reconciliation. When clinicians can access all prescribing, refill history, and dosage changes in one place, they can more accurately reconcile medications via telemedicine appointment with the patient.
- 2. Telemedicine and RMP protect patients (and doctors) from disease transmission by avoiding exposure to other patients. Telemedicine appointments increased by 154% during the last week in March 2020 compared to the same week in 2019. We’ll never know how many of those patients avoided exposure to COVID by staying home.
- 3. When non-critical needs can be addressed digitally, more hospital and urgent care resources are available for more critical patient needs. Think of the impact when 27 million visits to the emergency room are deemed “avoidable” each year.
- 4. Patient portals and apps can provide patients with education materials vetted by their healthcare providers.
Better Communication and CoordinationMobile health technology improves communications and information sharing across the health system, increasing access to specialists and test results. Specialists in other healthcare systems can be consulted without regard for distance – patients can get the specialized care that would not have previously been available to them without the cost and burden of traveling to the specialist.
EHRs act as a library of patient data, tracking their history, including admissions, discharges, transfers, medications, and test results, making relevant data available to all healthcare team members.
Physician-patient communication is also improved through secure messaging and electronic prescribing.
The Future of Digital Healthcare
The global mobile health boom is predicted to grow almost 30% per year until 2027. And why not, when it’s time-saving, efficient, accurate, and safe? As new technologies emerge, we may even see more scientific breakthroughs leading to improved care and treatment.
How does Poipu MD Help Provide Access to Convenient Care?
At Poipu Mobile MD, we do mobile health island style, bringing care to your door. To us, mobile medical service doesn’t only mean digital. It also means mobile doctor services. Whether you visit us at our clinic or we bring our mobile clinic to you, we’ll give you the best medical care on the island.
We offer clinic appointments, walk-in urgent care services 7 days a week, corporate services, COVID tests, and physical exams for work, school, and scuba.
Our clinic is equipped to treat infections, illness, minor injuries, bites and allergic reactions, and many other medical concerns. We also handle island injuries – sunburn, seasickness, heat exhaustion, and even sea urchin spines in the skin.
And, of course, we make house calls. You may have seen us around the island in our little yellow Smart car bringing mobile healthcare services to the entire island of Kauai.
At Poipu Mobile MD, we’re not an impersonal healthcare system. We believe in hospitality, transparency, and convenience in the care we provide. We live and work on the island, bringing a world of healthcare experience to Kauai. You might run into us surfing in Poipu, practicing hula, hiking, relaxing on the beach, or rescuing kittens.
Whether you’re a neighbor or vacationing on the island, we’re your home for medical care while you’re here.
Book an appointment on our website or call us at (808) 652-7021. Same-day appointments are available. Book your appointment today!