Connected Health – 3 Trends To Watch in 2016

Population Health,Mobile,Patient Satisfaction

trends-in-2016.pngThe health care industry has seen a continuous upward trend in mobile health adoption among providers and patients. The adoption rate is growing and is expected to continue over the coming years. Millenials are not the only ones driving this trend - older demographics, including Baby Boomers, are also a driving force. For example, 21 percent of Americans are already tracking their health on some type of electronic device. Because this percentage and other mobile health trends are continuing to rise, it’s more crucial than ever for health care decision makers to understand how mobile influences the industry as a whole - starting with 2016's top connected health trends to watch:

1. Wearable and sensor-based technologies for remote monitoring

A recent study was performed by the Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research Team (HST-ICIR) at the University of Bologna, examining the use of home-accessed mobile devices. In this case, wearable technology sensors and mobile devices were used to better predict falling, calling them “smart home” technologies. Traditional "at-home" tests now have the ability to be monitored without an on-site professional.

These technologies make it easier to administer traditional clinical tests - such as the Timed Up and Go test - to measure slight movements associated with the history of falls to better predict and prevent further falling. Movements, such as sit-to-walk transitions and their effort levels can help predict fall rates up to 6 months in advance, according to researchers. Wearables not only benefit home-based care but also providers who are managing care such as Parkinson’s Disease and other similar conditions.

2. Text Messaging for inspiring a positive change

Imagine a life where chronic illnesses can be managed through the convenience of the patients’ own phone. Duke University Medical Center performed a study to measure the potential impact of lifestyle-focused support programs by delivering text messages to cardiovascular at-risk patients. The study was fittingly named the Tobacco, Exercise, and Diet Messages (TEXT ME) trial. A group of patients with coronary heart disease were randomly selected to receive four texts per week for six months. Within the trial, researchers saw a significant decrease in cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index. All of these positive lifestyle changes, in turn, helped lower the participants’ cardiovascular risks. 

Another recent study demonstrated positive lifestyle changes in diabetics. Text messages were distributed bi-monthly via web portals and home-based medical devices over a three-month period. Through this, caregivers were able to quickly deliver health tips and reminders to participants. Results showed that participants lost an average of nearly 4 pounds and their mean hemoglobin A1c levels reduced from 7.41 to 6.77 percent. Participants also had access to a discussion board where they could communicate with other members of their study group. This could be the start of support group inspirations through mobile health. Furthermore, all participants rated the program positively while 56 percent agreed to paying for such a program.

3. Wi-Fi and Cellular connectivity for everyday tracking

mHealth and Home Monitoring gives first-hand insights into the adoption of wireless solutions for health monitoring. The number of home monitoring devices on the global market with integrated cellular connectivity was 3.0 million at the end of 2015 and is forecast to continue to grow to reach 19.2 million in 2020. 

mHealth technologies from blood pressure monitors to weight scales can now be distributed via Wi-Fi. Data automatically uploads to a secure website to make tracking patients easier. For those facing difficulties with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions, these technologies  may be the solution - ultimately improving data tracking abilities, reminders, and reinforcements and motivators to encourage more positive lifestyles in patients and much more.

Connected Health Care

Savings attributable to payers and care providers will continue to grow as connected care solutions support the cost effective achievement of better health outcomes. New care models enabled by these technologies are consistent with patients’ preferences of living more healthy, active and independent lives. The health care industry is advancing towards an age where connected health care solutions become a critical component of standard care practices.