The Intersection of mHealth and
By Shannon H. Houser, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA; Howard W. Houser, PhD; and Neeraj Puro, MHA
POPULAR CONSUMER-FOCUSED monitoring devices such as
Fitbits and smartphones with health data tracking applications
are all part of mobile health technology (mHealth). mHealth is a
rapidly developing technology applied to improving population
health and advancing healthcare practice—tasks that mirror the
duties of health informatics and information management (HIIM)
professionals. This article will discuss the importance, use, and
benefits of mHealth in current practice as well as the implications of mHealth on HIIM practices.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mHealth as
“an area of electronic health (eHealth)… the provision of health
services and information via mobile technologies such as mobile phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs).”
mHealth comprises technology that enables devices like mobile phones or wearables to record and communicate personalized data aimed at improving health outcomes. As the market
for mHealth grows, with the total market share forecasted to
surpass $21 billion by 2018,
2 mHealth stakeholders continually
strive to engage more people through mHealth technology.
mHealth Use and Benefits
Mobile devices enable real-time communication between individuals in motion. Input may be collected continuously or in
batches. Output mHealth technologies also include short messaging services, multimedia messaging services, smartphone
applications (apps), global positioning systems (GPS), Bluetooth
technology, and wearable audio/visual components. mHealth
technology design focuses on data, layout, feedback, and interaction.
4 The interface should be simple and intuitive with design
elements not interfering with the data.
The evolving role of mHealth provides benefits to stakeholders
such as patients, providers, and payers. It should be noted that
the primary focus of mHealth is the patient, even though it also
benefits providers and payers.
mHealth’s Use by Patients
mHealth is a useful tool that allows patients better personal control of their own health management through mobile apps. For
example, some patients face strict medication regimens and
mHealth technology can help patients set reminders to avoid
missed doses. It is also a tool that allows patients to track their
own health data by recording and adjusting physical activities,
measuring and recording vital signs, and aggregating the information in order to look at daily, weekly, and monthly improvements in their health outcomes.
mHealth improves patient-provider communication through
apps or patient portals, which enable providers to communicate
securely with patients within that system. Patients can also query
providers through this mechanism. Likewise, a patient and a care
team can coordinate efforts and communications based on protocols established at the outset of the care plan. It also provides a
record of communication between patients and their providers.
mHealth’s Use by Providers
mHealth technology provides faster and more cost-effective
care in hospitals.
5 Providers can save time by accessing patient
information on their mobile phones or tablets and certain applications can assist the provider in designing a care plan for the
patient. Medical information can be accessed quickly. By integrating patient and healthcare information together, providers
have access to best evidence-based medical practices. This has
potential to improve the health outcomes of patients.
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