February 21, 2017

The Benefits of mHealth on Public Awareness and Education

Members of the Army's Field Surgical Team after completing the 61st surgery on 14 August 2012

The BulletinHealthcare website released a study that found how the usage of mobile devices among physicians grew by more than 10% between January 2012 in January 2013. Now, statistics from BulletinHealthcare say that over 50% of healthcare providers now rely upon mobile devices to get information. How does that stack up to mobile tools used by the public to gain health information?

A firm called Manhattan Research found that 61% of people polled downloaded a mobile health (often shortened to mHealth) app, and a 54% of those were males. Also, the statistics showed that 85% of respondents logged onto social media websites for guidance about health, which may be a strong sign that mHealth apps that integrate with popular destinations like Facebook and Twitter have even more potential to gain momentum moving forward.

Help with Medication Compliance

Drugs and Medications

Some healthcare providers believe that mHealth could lead the way in improving patient compliance regarding taking medication. An article from Healthcare IT News says that only about 40% of patients who are homebound comply with recommended medication regimens. However, mHealth platforms that focus on constant patient monitoring could help.

One study of a mHealth option called Pillstation reported that 98% of users were able to comply with a medication plan. That system appeals to caregivers, because it offers real-time images of a patient’s specified medications, allowing a person to see if someone has taken the proper pills on time. Another option from a company called Covectra goes beyond patient adherence to ensure that the medications being taken are fully trackable to emphasize integrity.

Stopping the Spread of HIV in Africa

Research has also shown that mobile health devices can be worthwhile for people in developing countries. One example from the National Institutes of Health is a mobile phone that includes a temperature gauge. The tool aims to prevent the spread of HIV between African mothers who have tested positive for the disease and are breast-feeding infants. Some studies have found that about 40% of babies become infected with HIV because of transmission that occurs during breast-feeding.

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Fortunately, pasteurizing the milk has been shown to deactivate HIV and other contaminants within breast milk. A mHealth app uses sounds to alert a mother that milk is approaching the proper temperature. This educates people about a simple but effective way to reduce the transmission of HIV through breast milk, and can eliminate guesswork about temperature levels.

Alerting the Public to Health Risks

In some cases, epidemics gain momentum because it’s difficult to spread the word about risks to enough people at once. A mobile app from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to change that. It blends information from health journals with hot topics on social media, plus provides facts and automatic news updates. It’s available for free and compatible on Windows, Android and Macintosh OS devices, and developers designed it to put crucial healthcare information within reach, so people can become more informed about potential health risks that might be present both nearby and far away.

Although there are always some considerations to weigh, such as whether a person will take the initiative to download or use the mobile programs that are available, as these above examples show, the future looks bright, especially for enabling the healthcare realm to reach out to mobile savvy members of the public.

Author Tracy Rentz posts on several blogs about health education opportunities. If you are thinking of a career in health USC’s master’s in public health degree program can help you achieve your dream.

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