Mobile devices have transformed the way we communicate and conduct business. Some basic types of mobile healthcare (mHealth) solutions are already widely in use, and about 70% of Americans monitor health and wellness using apps like step and calorie counters. However, millions more are beginning to use mobile apps for access to medical information, monitoring of serious health conditions and as a secure method of communication between patients and physicians.
Healthcare professionals and patients alike recognize mHealth’s potential to dramatically improve clinical services and outcomes, but serious obstacles remain to widespread adoption of mHealth tools. Here are three major barriers:
- The need for more research to demonstrate mHealth value: Research is already underway to demonstrate the effectiveness of mHealth and suggest ways to improve it. A recent UK study outlined positive mHealth outcomes, such as using mobile devices to measurably improve patient medication compliance. This type of research demonstrates how effective the use of mobile devices already is, but more research is needed to advance wide acceptance of promising mHealth solutions.
- Improved patient awareness and device credibility: While consumers are already using apps and wearables to monitor other private information like finances, a trust gap remains between mobile technology and health that is preventing more widespread adoption of advanced mHealth solutions. People understandably want to know that they can trust these new apps with their data and that the technology behind the apps can truly deliver value. Continued research in mHealth, government regulations and awareness efforts will likely advance acceptance and adoption.
- Increasing provider awareness and trust: Healthcare clinician acceptance of mHealth devices and apps will play a critical role in driving patient acceptance. A mobile health economics report by research2guidance revealed that app developers are increasingly focused on healthcare, spearheading new innovation to integrate technology into healthcare processes. Innovations like secure mobile viewers make doctors’ lives easier by enabling analysis of diagnostic images on mobile devices and expanding clinical data accessibility.
Mobile’s potential for improving patient outcomes, expanding care team collaboration, and streamlining vital processes are virtually limitless. For example, DICOM Grid’s medical image management suite allows health systems to securely share diagnostic images with clinicians via the cloud to improve care coordination, enable second opinions without repeating costly scans and facilitate consultation from physicians despite geographical distance.
Disruptive new technologies are powering software that functions very much like a prescription, making technology-as-medicine a reality that can save lives and elevate overall population health. But before these possibilities can be fully realized, mHealth has to overcome barriers to acceptance. By investing in more research to demonstrate value, conducting patient outreach and driving greater acceptance with providers, mHealth can finally live up to its potential.
About the Author: Morris Panner is the CEO of DICOM Grid, a health IT company that helps hospitals better manage, share and store imaging data in the Cloud. Prior to joining DICOM Grid in 2011, he served as the CEO at OpenAir, Inc. which he led from start-up to its successful acquisition by NetSuite. A graduate of Yale and Harvard Law, Panner speaks and writes widely on technology and policy and has been featured in Forbes, Washington Post, BusinessWeek and the New York Times.