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Four Trends to Watch in mHealth

Population Health,mhealth,Text Messaging

Mobile phones are ubiquitous in the United States.

For instance, the Pew Research Center reported “roughly nine-in-ten American adults (92%) own a mobile phone of some kind.” The growth in U.S. mobile technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry, giving rise to a new and exciting technological healthcare concept: mHealth or mobile health.

With mobile health, healthcare providers can use mobile devices to not only educate and communicate with patients, but they can also use the devices to gather critical patient-related health data. As mobile technology continues to evolve, it’s important to stay abreast with the latest trends in mHealth. Here are four trends to watch for in mHealth:

1. Growth of the Mobile Health Market

Not surprisingly, the mHealth solutions market is currently growing at a steady clip. The global mobile health market is expected to hit $59.15 billion in 2020, growing at a rate of 33.4 percent on an annual basis. Additionally, according to a GreatCall survey, 40 percent of physicians believe that mHealth can reduce patient visits; and 93 percent believe that mHealth can improve a patient’s health.

2. The Internet of Things

According to a Gartner, Inc. forecast, there will be over 6.4 billion connected “things” in use around the world by the end of this year, marking a 30 percent increase from 2015. This year, 5.5 million new things (i.e. digital devices) will be added to the “Internet of Things” every day. The Internet of Things (IoT) is, according to Forbes, the concept of connecting a wide array of items—ranging from cellphones to household appliances and even healthcare devices—so that each device can quickly send and receive data. This network of interconnectivity will allow all devices, including medical devices, to communicate easily and rapidly with one another. In short, with the IoT, devices can automatically relay important mHealth health data from a patient’s home, place of employment, or even their physical body straight to a healthcare center or provider in support of ongoing monitoring and more timely interventions.

3. The Increase in Health Data

Roughly 40 percent of a clinician’s at-work time involves using some form of mobile device, including tablets and smartphones, and 49 percent of clinicians use tablets to edit or view some type of electronic health record. So what exactly does this all mean? Well, thanks to physicians and patients constantly sending, receiving, and storing health data, the size of the healthcare digital universe is ever expanding.

According to Emc.com, the universe grows at a rate of 48 percent each year. By 2020, the amount of healthcare data will hit 44 zettabytes—and the total amount of data will only keep expanding. It might sound a little clichéd, but it’s the truth—the digital healthcare universe is really a new frontier. However, this comes with its own unique challenges. For instance, this new mountain of data contains a slew of patient-specific information such as diagnoses, health status and satisfaction assessments. Healthcare providers will be challenged to sort through this raw information and transform it into something valuable for patient care and, ultimately, improving outcomes.

4. Text Messaging Platforms

Lastly, once healthcare providers develop a way to analyze all this new mHealth data, they’ll need a way to take advantage of the conclusions and engage with their patients. Text messaging is a preferred method of communication amongst Americans. Incredibly, one-third of text message users prefer texting instead of voice calls, according to a Pew study. Additionally, most all American adults rely on texting—81 percent of cell-owners text—so it’s a method that impacts a broad range of healthcare consumers, regardless of their socioeconomic status or age. Texting is extremely convenient and provides a massive strategic benefit to providers, because they can send information, updates, or reminders straight to a patient’s phone. As long as the patient has access to their phone and a cell network, a patient can interact with the healthcare information nearly anytime and anywhere. Texting is not only an incredible way to share timely and relevant information generated from the massive amounts of health data, but it also enables providers to change patient behaviors over time through periodic information and education tailored to their specific healthcare status.

mHealth is the way of the future - these latest mHealth trends will, inevitably, influence and shape how providers exchange information with patients.

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