Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Ten Facts about Mobile Broadband

Michael Philip O'Malley - Smartphone in hand.

Great summary by Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

Here’s just one of the facts… (others topics  include  their outnumbering of personal computers next year, increase in overall use by Americans, job creation, reshaping of education, political engagement, public safety, and disparity reduction)

 

7. Mobile Helps Patients and Health Care Providers

Health care today is dominated by physicians, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, insurance companies, and government agencies. Patients seek to navigate their health care by moving across a variety of providers, ordering prescription drugs from pharmacies, and seeking reimbursement from either public or private insurance plans. They spend hours connecting the dots and working out the best health care for themselves and their families.

Imagine a different system where, with the aid of the Internet, electronic medical records, and smartphones, the patient is in charge.[xviii] People monitor their own weight, blood pressure, pulse, and sugar levels, and send test results via remote devices to health care providers. Patients store their medical records online and have access regardless of where they are in the United States or around the world. They get personalized feedback via e-mail and reminders when they gain weight, have an uptick on their cholesterol levels, don’t take their medicine, or have high blood pressure. Social networking sites provide discussion forums and the benefit of collective experience from other people suffering similar problems. Patients take responsibility for their routine health care and rely on physicians and hospitals for more serious medical conditions.

This system is not a futuristic vision, but is within our grasp. It would cut costs by reducing professional responsibility for routine tasks and record-keeping, while also making it possible for patients to receive higher quality care and be more satisfied with the end-result. The technologies for this kind of system transformation currently are available through cell phones, mobile broadband, remote monitoring devices, video conferencing, and the Internet.

Smartphones offer advanced features such as mobile e-mail, web browsing, and wireless communications. The sophistication of these devices has spawned a variety of new medical applications that help doctors and patients stay in touch and monitor health care needs.

For example, there is a mobile application that allows physicians to get test results on their mobile device. They can look at blood pressure records over time, see an electro-cardiogram, or monitor a fetal heart rate. AirStrip Technologies markets an application that makes it possible for obstetricians remotely to monitor the heart rates of fetuses and expecting mothers. This allows them to detect conditions that are placing either at risk.

Work by Prgomet and colleagues has found that mobile handhelds have positive impacts on hospital physician work practices and patient care.  When equipped with such devices, researchers discovered benefits in terms of “rapid response, error prevention, and data management and accessibility”.[xix]  These benefits were especially profound in emergency room settings where time is of the essence in treating patients.

Mobile devices offer help for developing nations.  A majority of sub-Saharan Africa residents are served by cellphones with texting capabilities.  A non-profit organization called Medic Mobile seeks to use text messaging in that part of the world to track epidemics and help disaster relief personnel find those in need.[xx]

These applications make doctors more efficient because they don’t have to be in the physical presence of a patient to judge his or her condition. Digital technology allows people to overcome the limitations of geography in health care and access information at a distance. This makes it possible for patients to get a second opinion by sending that person relevant medical tests. If a personal conference is required, doctors can use video conferencing to speak to patients located in another locale.

Related Resources

  • Get Mobilized! An introduction to mobile resources and tools in health sciences libraries (Medical Library Association)

    Archived 2011 online class including “lecture notes”, resources, class discussions, and related slides/videos

  • Health Apps (in Health and Medical News and Resources selected by Janice Flahiff)
    a short list of information and tracking apps derived from the above Get Mobilized class


December 12, 2011 - Posted by | Public Health | , , , , ,

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