According to GSMA real-time intelligence data, over 5.13 billion people had mobile devices worldwide in August 2019. This means that 66.53% of the world’s population has a mobile device (cell phone, tablet or cellular enabled IoT device.)
In the US, 71.5% of the US population has a mobile device. Americans’ love of little things that go “ding” has ushered in multiple, new ways to communicate with, monitor, remind, and care for patients. Mobile health technology - also known as mHealth - is fast becoming the patient-preferred way to access their providers, log in to patient portals, track their steps, glucose, launch a telehealth visit, and manage their medications and conditions. And the fact that patients have driven the revolution to mHealth apps and platforms makes it much more likely that they will comply when physicians and other providers “prescribe” mHealth apps as part of their treatment and care.
Here are five benefits of mobile health technology.
1. Gives patients faster access to providers and care.
Unlike traditional and inefficient telephone access to physicians and healthcare organizations, mobile health technologies enable patients to quickly send secure messages, schedule appointments, and connect to providers 24/7 for telemedicine visits. In fact, telemedicine is one of the fastest growing ways patients are using mHealth apps on their mobile devices. They love the convenience of conducting a provider visit on their phone or tablet, as well as the fact that they don’t need to travel to the physician’s office or take time off work. Most health systems are responding to the uptick in demand by offering telemedicine visits delivered by network physicians, as well as contracted telehealth physicians after hours and on weekends.
ALSO READ: What is Telehealth and Why is it Taking Off Now?
2. Improves medication adherence.
Once patients are discharged from the hospital or leave the clinic, it’s tough to control whether or how they take their medication. Or frankly, if they pick it up from the pharmacy at all. Poor medication adherence is a significant reason for poor management of a patient’s chronic condition. It can also result in hospital readmissions and poor outcomes.
mHealth apps and mobile technology solutions improve this by giving patients features such as automated medication and refill reminders, and educational information, that improve the chance they’ll take their medications properly.
There are thousands of apps designed to help patients remember to take their medicine. In a recent blog, I pointed out six Top Medication Adherence Apps that provide patients reminders about when to take or refill their prescriptions, track pills remaining, provide educational material, and more.
3. Makes remote patient monitoring possible and easy.
Remote patient monitoring is a subcategory of home care and telehealth that enables patients to use mobile devices and mobile health technology to gather, enter, or automatically collect health data and transmit it to healthcare providers.
The ability to track patient conditions in between visits, and notify a clinician or care manager when the patient’s biological data is putting the patient at risk, is a big step forward in managing care. Without mobile devices and mobile health technology - and in particular, wearable devices such as watches, fitness trackers, and wristbands - continuous tracking and monitoring of such data would be inconvenient or not possible at all.
Remote patient monitoring is most often used to help patients manage a chronic condition, or to ensure they are following their hospital discharge instructions and taking their medications correctly. Types of data transmitted from mobile devices include:
- Weight, blood pressure, and heart rate monitors
- Glucose meters
- Diet data trackers
Remote patient monitoring got a boost in 2019 when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented new codes and covered services for these emerging services, opening the door to new streams of revenue for physicians and healthcare organizations.
4. Increases medication reconciliation accuracy, which improves patient safety.
It’s common knowledge that many patients do not recall the names and dosages of the medications they are taking. This is a particular problem for polypharmacy patients (those taking more than five different prescription medications each day), elderly patients, and other high-risk patients.
The fact that many patients (nor their caregiver or family members) cannot accurately recall their medication list to a physician, ED intake or hospital admission nurse, or other provider, puts the patient at significant risk. When clinicians aren’t sure which medications a patient is taking, it creates an opportunity for drug-to-drug interactions. And, adverse drug reactions can occur when a patient is admitted to a hospital and not prescribed something that they should be taking, but forgot to report.
Cureatr is working to improve patient safety and medication management by closing this information gap. The Cureatr Meds 360 solution gives providers and other clinicians a bird’s-eye view of all medications a patient has been prescribed - as well as pick up and refill history, dosage changes, and more - on an uncluttered, iPhone or Android screen display.
LEARN MORE: This on-demand Webinar discusses common patient scenarios that demonstrate how serious, medication errors are caused by suboptimal medication management and how Cureatr’s Meds 360º helps avoid them.
5. Improves provider communication and coordination.
Given most providers’ full appointment schedules, long days, and multiple facility coverage requirements, connecting with colleagues, coworkers, and patients is challenging. Mobile health technology improves the ability to connect across the health system and with referring physicians and office staff using secure messaging and texting, mobile health record access, and cellular phone calls.
mHealth apps can also be used to alert providers to patients that need attention or that have been admitted to the hospital. Cureatr is improving care transitions using mobile health solutions such as Clinical Event Notifications. The platform makes it easy to see the full picture of a patient – where they’ve been, who has treated them, for what, and where they’re going – so they can do more to coordinate their care in transitions across settings. As part of the Cureatr solution, providers are notified about patient ED arrivals, admissions, discharges, and transfers in real-time on their mobile device. And, clinical checklists are triggered off of alerts that standardize and streamline care, case to case.
The benefits of mobile health technology continue to expand and evolve. Given the proliferation of mobile devices throughout the US population and patient enthusiasm for using them for managing their condition and health, it’s likely these technologies will continue to be prescribed and used more frequently. And as mHealth apps become more integrated into the care continuum, we’ll begin to see new and favorable impacts on health outcomes.
ALSO READ: What are the Pros and Cons of mHealth?
On Tuesday, September 17, Cureatr will be hosting a webinar discussing how mHealth, specifically telepharmacy, is fast becoming a viable option for delivering medication management services in a way that’s convenient for patients, improves clinical outcomes, and reduces costs. You can reserve your seat by clicking here.