Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When is Mobile Health Computing Useful?

This is a guest post by Rachel Davis.

When is Mobile Health Computing Useful?

Mobile health computing is on the rise today, thanks to the many devices and applications that support initiatives in this sector. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mobile health or mHealth is “an area of electronic health or eHealth that is the provision of health services and information via mobile technologies such as mobile phones and PDAs. The difference between mHealth and eHealth is that the former focuses on behavioral and structural changes while the latter focuses on technology to drive the change, according to Peter Waegemann, founder of Mobile Health Initiative. So an improvement in mobile health computing is supposed to induce behavioral changes which in turn boost the health of the general population.

However, there are two catches to this theory:
• Not everyone has access to and/or can afford the devices and applications that drive mobile health computing.
• Mobile health computing is useful only if the people who have access to it use it to their advantage and attempt to gain the maximum possible benefits from it.

The first issue is slowly becoming a non-issue – what with the proliferation of handheld gadgets and the publicity they’re generating on and off the Internet, more and more people are rushing to buy them even though they cannot really afford them. They’ve become status symbols that just have to be owned, no matter what.

While this attitude is ok as long as they don’t incur debt to own these devices, what’s not ok is the fact that people don’t really make the best use of technology. They buy a smartphone not because they really need it, but because they like the looks of it or because it was advertised really well or because they want to go one up on their friends who have one just like it. However, they barely use all the features in it; at the most, they download a ton of apps and use the device to while away the time or impress other people.

And so we come to the second issue – if you invest in a smartphone or other gadget that allows you to run health-related applications, how effectively do you use your device to boost your health? The concept of mHealth is that it is supposed to change your mindset and influence you to take a more active role in preventing disease and boosting health. Now this happens when you use devices in conjunction with apps to exercise correctly and regularly and to control your diet using intelligent information that is available in a timely manner.

However, people don’t really use all the technology that they buy – the potential of their gadgets is not tapped to the maximum, they use a bare minimum of the applications they download, and they use technology as a convenient excuse to skip exercise or cheat on their diet when their devices fail or don’t work as they should. Also, some technology is not really useful in promoting mobile health even though it’s marketed as such.

So for mobile health computing to really make a difference, it must be accessible, affordable, usable, and used.

This guest post is contributed by Rachel Davis, she writes on the topic of Radiology programs. She welcomes your comments at her email id: racheldavis65[@]gmail[.]com.

1 comment:

  1. Great article and so true. Expectance and usage of mHealth will increase dramatically. Do you remember when people used to ask you, what do you use the Internet for? One of the main reasons mHealth will be a major factor in our healthcare is the ubiquity of the phones which in turn will lower the price. Your smartphone will soon be used to start your car, open your home and pay for your dinner as well provide a device to monitor your heart. Since Healthcare is in such a state of change the opportunity is now for mHealth. Many Providers already carry smartphones and padtabs, further reducing the cost for the healthcare facility. Patients home devices will cost less because Smartphone have more power and communication capability than a PC of just a few years ago. Many diagnostic machines that are being rolled around on carts today in hospitals will soon run on a smartphone or padtab devices, again reducing the cost.

    Smartphone will become the remote control of our healthcare.

    Jeff Brandt