mHealth…Taking the Nation by Storm

Advancement of technologies, such as smartphones, and the emergence of social media has given way to a new trend in health. There are many terms that can be used to describe this health trend, some call it mobile health or mHealth others call it digital health. Its name is irrelevant in the matter. What’s important to know is that this is a trend that potentially will reshape the landscape of healthcare. Jay Bernhardt, professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida stated, “Digital health will be revolutionary. It will be as transformative as vaccines and other innovations of the past.” mHealth trend A bold statement such as this suggests that mHealth should be incorporated into all health messages. And why wouldn’t be? Over 90% of the U.S. population owns cell phones. Cell Phone Usage As a healthcare advocate, if you had the ability to reach a large audience wouldn’t you? Most, if not all those involved in health care would answer yes.

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Here’s a few things to consider with mHealth:

  • This new trend requires a strategy. Party of this strategy will include determining who your audience is. Cell phone use among U.S. adults in nearing 90%. (http://www.publichealthnewswire.org/?p=8688) Wide use of cell phones makes the audience pool much larger. Understanding this you can now approach health leaders and confidently state mHealth will reach a large audience. Part of your strategy must include what is your desired outcome, what are you hoping to achieve? If you are just getting started with using this type of promotion, maybe attend a workshop to sharpen your knowledge.
  • Messages should be brief. Nobody wants to read a four page text message. Keeping the message short while still delivering a powerful punch is key. Consider this type of communication more for promotion purposes than anything. For instance, promoting a blood drive or a daily health tip will keep your audience engaged while still providing valuable information. If your mHealth skills are where they should be your audience may just be motivating to search out other health information on their own.
  • Know what makes mHealth fail and adjust accordingly. There are three reasons why mHealth fails: not knowing the full potential, no leadership buy-in, and poor strategy and communication What makes mHealth fail and succeed? Understanding these obstacles and acting on them greatly increases your chances of having a successful mHealth campaign. By getting leadership to buy-in, assessing resources, setting goals, developing a strategy, and measuring your successes and failures will provide you with the necessary support to make your mHealth campaign a success.

Our world is constantly shrinking. What once seemed impossible is now a part of everyday life. We have never been more connected as a race and with this comes great opportunity. There are a number of different ways we can address the public to promote health. The accessibility of cell phones makes mHealth more relevant than it has ever been before. It is the duty of those in healthcare to promote health. Understanding the cultural landscape of a population is critical to determine which form of promotion works best for the intended audience. mhealth

 

 

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4 thoughts on “mHealth…Taking the Nation by Storm

  1. Great post! I think you added enough detail to be credible and interesting. Your summary was short and succinct and your voice is clear and authentic. I would add one point to the “shortcomings” of mHealth; not specifically defining and targeting audience to engage with mHealth to make the information matter to them to change health behavior.

  2. Very well written. The author writes very fluidly and ends on an inspiring and uplifting note. The only thing I would like to see is perhaps a link to one of the “workshops” for mHealth mentioned in the second paragraph.

  3. As you have pointed out, healthcare landscape is being reshaped by mobile health right this moment. I did not realize how “revolutionary and transformative” this shift is until I’ve explored a little bit deeper about mHealth trend. With explosion of mHealth and smartphones health applications we see examples that phones and tablets literally can serve as a medical devices at the fraction of medical equipment cost. Smart phones can perform an ECG, control the delivery of insulin, act as a stethoscope, gather patient-specific health information, recognize ear infections, provide clinicians with radiation dosage calculations, allow doctors to view X-rays or other imaging, etc.
    No surprise that patient safety framework must be put forward for mHealth devices and apps. Therefore, when a mobile app is doing the job of a medical device, “medical devices and whose functionality could pose a risk to a patient’s safety if the mobile app were to not work as intended”, these apps have became FDA-regulated and require FDA clearance or approval. “Resource: FDA Feb 2015, Guidance for Industry. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/…/UCM263366.pdf
    FDA Blog, http://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2013/03/keeping-up-with-mobile-app-innovations/

    Examples of FDA cleared health apps – smart thermometer, smart inhaler, mobile radiology imaging and many others, examples are here: http://mobihealthnews.com/36795/23-notable-fda-clearances-for-digital-health-apps-devices-so-far-this-year/

    Among top health industry issues 2015 listed “Do it yourself healthcare” (apps), patient privacy, cost-saving innovations, and shift to mobile medicine. Report can be found here: http://www.pwc.com/en_US/us/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues/assets/pwc-hri-top-healthcare-issues-2015.pdf
    These are some additional matters surrounding mHealth that yet to be addressed and improved.

  4. Really enjoyed reading your “considerations for mHealth”. You presented the case for mHealth very well and what I really liked about your considerations is that you made the case for mHealth, but then took a few steps back on how public health professionals should be more strategic about an mHealth promotional campaign to achieve what they set out to do. I think with new technology and new ways to do things, people can get wrapped up in the excitement of something new and not put the thought or work in place beforehand. This can often lead to people blaming the technology for not working the way it intended, rather they didn’t put the thought in advance to use the technology correctly. I think we need to take the technology of being mobile for what it is, a way to have new forms of communication with our audience, a new avenue. Your points about having a strategy, setting goals, gaining leadership buy-in are all great points to make sure we aren’t putting too much expectation on the technology alone. Great post!

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