High quality patient centered care is shifting how patients are treated and cared for. Central to patient-centered care is improved quality of care with measurable outcomes and preventive care rather than episode-centered reactionary care. Such healthcare goals become tangible with innovations in the mobile health (or mHealth) arena. The advent of mHealth apps for remote patient monitoring will change how patients are treated, it will revolutionize how we think of healthcare – changing the quality of care and offering gains for patients and hospitals.
While there is great deal of material on mHealth regarding the benefits derived for patients, what does it exactly mean? How do patients benefit from mHealth?
Patients suffering from chronic health conditions or undergoing surgery have a lengthy recovery process requiring consistent care and management. Providing daily care via doctors and nurses is expensive for the provider, following up using phones is time consuming, providing paperwork to the patients to follow a care plan is cumbersome.
Patients have very little incentive to follow a care plan with a checklist of daily items and record everything on paper. Remembering to take medications becomes a hassle – it feels like a chore. Moreover, chronic health and post-op patients tend to go to the hospital when their condition has worsened. Nor do the providers have the resources to easily follow up with their patients frequently. This often creates a gap in care leading to episode-centered care.
The above has been the ‘traditional model’ (legacy model) for patient care in the healthcare system, now integrated into EHR (Electronic Health Records). Beyond EHR is the next evolutionary step in health care to provide better care that can be integrated with EHRs.
While EHRs continue to evolve, the growing number of companies with mHealth apps provide doctors and patients with the solutions they need to help patients improve their health and allow doctors to better manage their patients.
New Model in Healthcare
Shifting trends towards patient-centered quality of care paves the way for achieving gains in the patient health outcomes – focus on preventive care, improve efficiency in care management, simplify administering of care, ensure compliance, and have consistent real-time doctor-patient connection.
For patients, following a care plan is done at the touch of a button, many mHealth apps connect to bluetooth medical devices for capturing vitals – reducing patient workload. Using innovative concepts to incentivize patients to use the app and combining it with a great UI can really increase patient engagement. Some companies use gamification features to improve response rate. Providing reminders (including push notifications) helps increase patient engagement.
Preventive care becomes possible with real-time connection to the patient – qualitative feedback and vitals data can provide great insights into the patient’s health on daily basis. Intervening before conditions elevate reduces admission rate, improves patients health outcomes, and patients have the assurance that they are being looked after.
It’s really a win-win for patients and doctors, and all through a smartphone. While mHealth apps are only beginning to gain market traction, they are revolutionizing healthcare silently.