In the future, healthcare will be largely in our hands. Here are the top five reasons why the future of healthcare will lie in mobile technology:
1) Evolution: Mobile phones, are just "phones."
Our smartphones hold incredible power and functionality. We no longer have to dig through our belongings to find our single-year day planners. We don't have to go to the pharmacy to drop off film to see our photos, order double prints, place a set of prints in a photo album and mail a set to our families in order to "share." We no longer even risk losing our contact lists and schedules since we can storage information in the cloud. Technology has placed our camera, GPS, calendar, our entire record collection, game system, entertainment system, enough online shopping to replace the local mall and oh, yes, telephone in a gadget not much larger than on old cassette tape.
Have you noticed that there are fewer numbers listed on business cards? And more recently, fewer physical addresses are listed. Our "land lines," "office numbers" and "mobile numbers" are becoming consolidated. We do not need multiple communication mechanisms if we have a reliable one that is always with us.
I do not refer to my phone as my mobile phone -- it is just my phone.
The frictionless nature of mobile technology has improved the quality of our lives and become the mainstream standard by which we all live. We take for granted the ease digitization has brought to our lives.
I look forward to that phenomenon's evolution in healthcare -- an evolution that has already started to transform our lives, but has not yet reached the tipping point. I predict that very soon there will be fewer referrals to "mHealth," because we will just call it "health," and "mobile medicine" will just be "medicine" just as our "mobile phone" is now just our "phone."
2) Mobile empowers us...
For the month of September I utilized 30 sensor devices and wellness applications. I tracked my activity, sleep, food and beverage intake, vitals and moods. I learned valuable insights into my sleep patterns in particular, and changed a few habits for the better. The advent of wearable technology we are currently witnessing is just the first baby steps to self-empowerment only possible through mobile technologies.
The market is still fragmented and actionable data is still very much a self-managed process. Nevertheless, the foundation has been laid for us to personalize and empower our own health and wellness. The future will undeniably bring real-time communication between patients and providers through integrated mobile devices when patients request an on-demand solution.
3) and it empowers our healthcare providers
It is undeniable that a computer's memory is beyond that of any human's capacity. Until scenarios like those found in the movie Limitless becomes a reality, the human mind has a limited memory and scope of acuity. Mobile can augment, manage, organize and analyze the increasing deluge of information at the fingertips of healthcare providers. Electronic health records are at providers' fingertips and providers will have the ability to apply the art and the science to the raw data. Importantly, evidence-based research will increasingly pull out trends by cross-referencing data points, enabling providers to make better informed decisions regarding patient care.
4) A New Dimension: Contextual Healthcare
Mobile technology provides contextual awareness around patients through Bluetooth, GPS signals, environmental and social factors. This creates the opportunity to provide patients with the best care -- the most relevant care -- at the time and place patients need it most, while mitigating the risk of recall bias. Mobile gives healthcare the power of context and immediacy, a tremendous phenomenon that I believe will lead the force in healthcare technology development
5) Better, Faster, Stronger
HIPAA, PHI: Acronyms that translate into the need for security of data. For messaging and transmission of data, mobile is more secure than traditional mechanisms. I recently spoke to a healthcare facility that admitted to one-third of patient logs unaccounted for on any given day. If that patient log were to be recorded on a mobile tablet, that data could be securely transmitted to HIPAA-compliant cloud storage, and not only would data not be lost, but adherence to collecting data would be higher.
Healthcare is an industry ripe to reap the benefits of efficiency in the mobile arena. I strongly believe that in the very near future we will reach the tipping point needed in market adoption of mobile healthcare-related platforms and usage. Critical mass adoption will create an environment that will make healthcare more accessible, affordable and efficient.