Modern healthcare has seen incredible technological innovation in the last century. Looking to the near future, mobile technology in healthcare promises to keep that innovation going. So what will this mobile future look like? What will the impact be on consumers, healthcare professionals and the industry as a whole? By taking a look at some mobile solutions currently shaking up the market, we can form a better picture of what the future of mobile technology in healthcare holds.
There’s no denying it: smartphones have changed the way we live. Having instant access to the Internet and countless applications in the palm of your hand has driven innovation in many industries, including healthcare.
Capitalizing on the mobile nature and computing power of smartphones, AliveCor has recently developed a heart monitor accessory that wraps snugly around, and cooperates with, the iPhone 5. When the user presses his fingers against the two electrodes on the back of the device, the companion app generates an ECG (electrocardiogram).
This technology makes it possible for healthcare providers to collect important data from patients without the hassle of an office visit. Doctors could distribute these relatively inexpensive devices to patients and have the results automatically emailed to their inbox for further inspection and diagnosis. Add video conferencing to the mix, and patients could have a comprehensive checkup from the comfort of their own home. Such mobile freedom saves time and money for both healthcare provider and patient.
While smartphone and tablet accessories can bring health care out of hospitals and into homes, there are plenty of ways to use these innovations inside our medical facilities. From record keeping to diagnosing, mobile devices can provide an accurate and timely alternative to the bulky, expensive and complicated machinery of recent history.
New mobile technology like General Electric’s Vscan is hoping to make such unwieldy machines a thing of the past. This pocket-sized ultrasound device helps doctors gain a deeper understanding of their patients, without the need of a hand cart or an external monitor. Although most exam tools are still waiting to be miniaturized, this hardware breakthrough gives us an idea of what may be possible in the future.
Imagine having the mobility to perform diagnostic procedures such as CT scans or MRIs from a handheld device rather than an entire room’s worth of machinery. This technology would give every room in a healthcare facility the same diagnosing capabilities and therefore offer a more flexible, efficient and cost-effective overall operation.
We’ve seen how hardware innovations are making mobile technology in healthcare commonplace, but what about the software side? According to leaders at the 2013 HealthBeat conference, mobile apps could have an equally significant impact on medical industry.
Apps like Asthmapolis are giving doctors and researchers important information about individual, regional and global health trends thanks to our mobile connectivity. The key to this technology is providing users with targeted metrics, ranging from personal health information — helping them avoid triggers — to local pollen counts.
As simple as it sounds, the results are impressive. Mark Gehring, president of Asthmapolis, says users of its app see a 70% drop in hospitalization, along with another 70% decrease in length of stay if they do go to a hospital. By equipping the general population with this mobile technology, we’ll see fewer hospital visits and a generally healthier population.
Mobile apps can also help healthcare facilities report on real-time data such as current bed status, length of stay and even charge/cost ratios. With the convenience of a constant data stream always at hand, hospitals can operate in a safer, more efficient environment. This also helps avoid costly mistakes in all areas of healthcare, which leads to an improved bottom line and a better public image.
With the combined innovation of smartphone accessories, dedicated mobile devices and highly informative mobile apps, we can all look forward to a healthier tomorrow in a world with fewer waiting rooms, less expensive consultations and easier diagnoses. Now that’s a future worth waiting for.