What is mHealth?
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Consensus Group defined mHealth as “the use of mobile wireless communication devices to improve health outcomes, health care services, and health research”. It is a recent term used to encompass the use of mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient-monitoring devices, PDAs, and other wireless devices, to support medical and public health practice.
mHEalth applications, include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners, researchers, and patients; real-time monitoring of patient vital signs; and direct provision of care (via mobile telemedicine). It can enhance diagnosis, help prevent diseases, improve treatments, improve accessibility to health care, and advance health-related research.
A typical mHealth system used by HCPs consists of devices used by patients, such as weight scales, glucometers, or wearable sensors, that transmit data by wireless technology to a patient’s smartphone or other mobile communication device.
- The communication device uses cellular technology to send data to a designated server, which in turn sends data to the HCP. In this way, patients use devices that allow monitoring of particular health parameters anywhere, called mobile health monitoring, and data from patients’ medical devices populate HCPs’ electronic health records (EHRs).
Benefits for patients:
- increased access to health care information
- increased quality of life by focusing on prevention and early detection of disease
- better diagnostics
- instantaneous feedback
- improved confidence
- promotion and encouragement of healthy lifestyles
Benefits for HCPs:
- better diagnostics and treatment facilitated by collection and processing of records collected at home and during daily living activities
- monitoring of reaction (including adverse) to drugs and treatment
- instantaneous suggestions and advice to patient
Benefits for informal caregivers
- remote monitoring and access to real-time and long-term trends of health care parameters
Benefits for researchers
- significant larger and more relevant databases of patient records
- physiological records collected at home will better represent the state of users and dynamics of daily and monthly changes of relevant physiological parameters
- data mining of large databases will provide assessment of patient-specific responses and treatments and discovery of new approaches.
***There is overlap of mHEalth with telehealth, but mHealth tends to be more distributed and includes technology used by HCPs with patients and by consumers without the supervision of HCPs. ***