The US Department of Health and Human Services calls it “mHealth.” The m stands for mobile and the term defines and includes the many ways in which mobile applications and devices are being used “to monitor a patient’s health remotely” and “improve health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.”
With an estimated 40,000 mobile health apps available, new tablets and handheld devices on the market every day, and experts suggesting that people have already downloaded nearly 250 mobile health applications, it’s not a huge stretch to suggest that the smartphone is revolutionizing healthcare and our access to it.
Here are five examples of indisputably positive changes in healthcare that mobile devices are offering:
1. Triage Apps
Like WebMD only wiser, apps like iTriage walk the user through a step-by-step process that begins with identifying symptoms and ends in booking an appointment with a real doctor. This app is a natural step given that consulting the internet via an ailment keyword search has become commonplace for most people, even those who intend to go to a doctor anyway. These triage apps familiarize patients with standard treatments and medications as well.
2. Self Monitoring Devices
By placing a fingertip on the camera lens of an iPhone, an app by Azumio will determine your heart rate. Blood pressure, weight changes, calorie intake, muscle tension—the list goes on and on. Self monitoring devices not only encourage and reward by marking progress and allowing goals to be set and met, but they point out facets of lifestyle that are often overlooked by those who are simply focusing their efforts on one aspect of health like diet, or blood pressure.
3. Mobile Prescription Medication Refills
Major pharmacies like Walgreens are now offering a plethora of options for refilling prescriptions with minimal effort or human contact. The efficiency of the “reply to refill” email is only slightly out matched by the app that allows the user to refill multiple prescriptions, select which pharmacy those prescriptions should be filled at and what time they should be filled by, and even have them shipped from a saved account.
4. Planned Pregnancy
Advanced and detailed or whimsical and fun, for the pregnant, hoping to become pregnant, or people who just like to browse baby names, the world of apps has it all. Whether monitoring the progress of a baby, or planning a postpartum exercise routine apps like Sprout, iPregnancy, and Baby Checklist make a pregnant mother feel like they’re in the care of a talented nurse or midwife and such stress-reducing apps are not only good for mothers they’re good for babies.
5. Access to the CDC
Now if there’s a zombie takeover, or something more serious like a pandemic, or food recall, that information is available in free app form. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention app provides automatic news updates, articles and images about health, and important information about disease prevention. This is a definite improvement to the traditional trickle down method of obtaining such crucial information, and is especially good to have in case of an emergency.