The benefits
of mobile
in healthcare

Author: Megan Williams

Mobile technology in healthcare, often referred to as "mHealth," has long been a central figure in critical healthcare developments—including the patient and provider experience, interoperability, and data analytics of both clinical and claims data.

But a pandemic-fueled explosion of telemedicine has launched the world into a new era where mHealth touches everything from prevention to point of care and beyond. The use of mobile devices in healthcare is now standard, which is perhaps unsurprising given smartphone ownership might be as high as 97% according to a Gallup survey. Let's look at some of the fascinating ways mobile devices are used in the healthcare industry.

Mobile technology healthcare trends

Among the most common uses of mobile technology in healthcare are consumerism, prevention, remote monitoring, and patient self-management.

Supporting healthcare consumerism

Healthcare consumerism is the growing movement for patients to have greater personal choice and responsibility in paying for and managing their own health. It is fueled by convenience—the vast majority of patients, 92%, say that convenience is important when choosing their primary provider. Mobile health options, like virtual visits, allow patients to save time, reduce transportation costs and not leave their homes. This convenience opens the door to patients exploring the use of mobile devices in healthcare to access quality care at a lower cost and improve outcomes.

Experts predict this growing movement will see the patient care access process increasingly begin online. Indeed, research suggests patients will visit on average three websites before booking an appointment, so it's important for organizations to have plenty of information online and in multiple places. This is all part of a concept known as the "digital front door" and includes patient access tools like online provider search and appointment scheduling all the way to telehealth and online bill pay.

Improving wellness through prevention

There is a growing consumer movement toward health self-management with a focus on preventative activities like tracking daily steps and accessing exercise and nutrition programs—consumer use of wearables has increased from 9% to 33% in just four years. Over three-quarters of those who track their health say it changes their behavior at least moderately.

Other examples of prevention-focused wearable mobile technology in healthcare include:

  • Sensors in sports to recognize factors like whiplash and neck strain to predict concussion risk
  • Consumer-facing monitors and apps can be used to either passively or actively collect data that informs early warning systems for diseases—a benefit that has been leveraged during the COVID-19 pandemic to support contact tracing and inform patients about potential exposure to the virus

Assisting with remote monitoring

Mobile technology in healthcare is being used in remote patient monitoring to transition from an episodic approach to continuous care, a bedrock of prevention, an improved patient experience and better outcomes.

Remote monitoring mHealth apps have sprung up to better connect patients and providers through easier and faster contact. Patients can more efficiently talk with a doctor to get advice on symptoms, drugs or input on a condition. This supports earlier interventions—a step that is critical to better health outcomes.

This improvement in monitoring extends benefits to the population health level as some apps can collect patient data, storing it in a centralized location and simplifying access for researchers and clinicians.

Improving disease management

As patients take on more responsibility in the healthcare process, treatment compliance comes to the forefront of the conversation.

Providers have long struggled with medication non-adherence across a range of diseases and patient types. Research suggests up to 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, while about half of medications for chronic disease are not taken as prescribed.

Non-adherence can result in disease progress, poor therapeutic outcomes and severe financial burdens for the entire healthcare system. But some mHealth apps allow people to track pills, receive prompts to take certain medications and log symptoms they might have.

Mobile technology in healthcare has been tied to positive outcomes in the self-management of diabetes via modalities like text messaging, wearables and mobile applications.

How mobile technology in healthcare is benefitting us all

Across the board, the use of mobile devices in healthcare is proving its worth—in the form of reduced costs, improved efficiencies and better outcomes.

Reduced costs

Research into the cost-effectiveness of mHealth solutions has shown financial benefits in a wide range of use cases from transplant recipients to pregnancy.

Improved efficiency

Mobile health technology devices are widely recognized for their ability to help clinicians reliably and efficiently collect and analyze information. This is partly because patients are pulled into the data collection process, allowing them to contribute patient-generated health data—helping patients not only feel more engaged but also supporting clinicians in creating better-tailored care management plans.

Better outcomes

Mobile health devices can also have a direct positive effect on patient health outcomes. A 2020 study of orthopedic surgeons using mHealth technology compared their results with patients under surgeons who weren't using mobile health tech. It found that the inpatient readmission rates for patients under surgeons who weren't using mobile technology were higher for 30-day inpatient readmissions, 60-day readmissions, and 90-day readmissions. The length of stay for the nonparticipating group was also 1.9 days, compared to 1.5 days for participating. The study concluded that the technology can positively impact patient outcomes and patient-reported experiences. This is because mHealth technology can empower patients to more actively participate in improving their outcomes.

Healthcare leaders have an opportunity to leverage the increase in telehealth by connecting data collected from mobile technology in healthcare in new and innovative ways.

To learn more about this type of integration and how Verizon is accelerating the advancement of digital health, start here.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.