MHealth

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Contents

Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 6 December 2015

Introduction

See also Canada Health Infoway | eHealth | Electronic health records (EHRs) | iPad | IPhone6 in medicine | Medical informatics | Wearable computers

"...the overall opportunity of mHealth will come from accessing large, widespread populations directly with individually tailored programs. Even where these programs have only a small effect, with such wide reach there is the opportunity for population-level changes—moving the bell-shaped curve of health a small amount with huge public health impact..." — Whittaker, 2012.

mHealth, m-health or mobile health, stands for the provision of health-related services using mobile communications and information technologies and described as "...the provision of health services [and] medical and public health practice via mobile devices, mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants, and other wireless devices." mhealth refers to the use of smartphones and Apple iPhones and iPads in health and is part of eHealth, "the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as computers, mobile phones, patient monitors, in delivery of health care". mHealth applications include the use of mobiles in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery of healthcare information to practitioners and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, and direct provision of care (via mobile telemedicine).

mHealth has emerged as a potential solution for developing countries to access the web due to the high use and rise of mobile phone use in low-income nations. The field emerges as a way of providing web access to larger groups of people in developing countries, as well as improving the capacity of health systems in such countries to provide higher quality care. mHealth projects share objectives such as better access to healthcare and health-related information; improved ability to diagnose and track diseases; timelier public health information; and access to ongoing medical education and training for health workers. Some of the applications include 1) Education and awareness; 2) Helpline; 3) Diagnostic and treatment support; 4) Communication and training for healthcare workers; 5) Disease and epidemic outbreak tracking; 6) Remote monitoring and data collection. For insight into the quantified self movement and related trends, see wearable computers.

mHealth & health services delivery

The use of wireless mobile communications to deliver health services (m-health) is a rapidly emerging area of global health. Recently, the number of cell phone subscriptions surpassed 6 billion worldwide. Statistics Canada recently reported that western provinces had the highest proportion of cell phone users with 80% of households in British Columbia having at least one cell phone. British Columbians are also replacing their traditional landlines with cell phones. m-health is meant to draw on the mobility and timeliness of wireless communications in health. This includes instant data transfer between health providers and patients in a range of localities. In terms of cost and infrastructure, cell phones are natural patient-level tools to consider, since they are al­ready conveniently in the hands of a large majority of the Canadian public.

The question is whether m-health will improve health outcomes and make health services delivery more efficient? m-health technologies and health services are the focus on all kinds of medical research. One example of mHealth in action is a multisite randomized controlled trial that was conducted in Kenya. It assessed the ability of sending weekly text messages to HIV-infected patients to improve adherence to their antiretroviral medications.

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