Smartphones and Apps Growing in Use to Manage Personal Healthcare

There are many challenges facing the health industry today such as a growing and aging population, many of whom are staying in the workforce, decreasing health budgets, and a rise in chronic diseases. Health organizations are putting their resources in technology to provide a solution to these challenges.

This is a good thing as health plans and employers looking to help employees manage their personal healthcare are turning to smartphones and health apps for assistance.

Remote Health Monitoring

Recognizing that existing protocols between physicians and patients need to change, there is a movement underway opening the door for remote health monitoring. This is a brand-new protocol where a physician treats an individual by continuous, actionable information being collected from the patient and digitally delivered to the provider to create more meaningful engagement between the two.

At the center of this are smart technologies, like smart phones, watches, and plasters (which some look like band-aids) that can provide insights that will deliver benefits to impact the physical, emotional and mental aspects of a person. Smartphones, which approximately two-thirds of U.S. adults now own, according to a 2015 Pew research study, already have fingerprint sensors and a camera. They also have the ability to connect through Bluetooth to monitors, activity trackers and medical devices like ECG machines to deliver data where and when its needed.

New Technology Forms

Multiple sensors in the form of jewelry, fabric garments and adhesive patches or plasters will be delivered moving forward based on personal preference. These sensors can then transform a smartphone into a personal health management device.  Some health insurers have recognized the value in these offerings and are subsidizing the cost of Apple watches and Fitbits for enrollees.

Gathering important biometrics and communicating them on a daily basis with little or no recharging is imperative for this technology to evolve into the mainstream. Using a smartphone means it’s also critical to have sufficient security and privacy in place. Data will not only need to be validated, but also acted upon. Learning from this data can help improve the quality and delivery of care to individuals everywhere.

Source:  Electronic Design. The Future of Digital Health. Feb. 2017 PP 30-31.

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