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The odds of mHealth in chronic disease management

Head of Android Development, ScienceSoft

All the diversity of mobile healthcare apps makes a unique mHealth field that keeps growing briskly. Mobile software is particularly significant for dealing with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer and more. It provides patients with the tools to ease up the daily routine including tracking of medication intake and health data, arranging appointments with the physician and checking the lab results altogether.

It's hard to overestimate the importance of software that inspires individuals to involve themselves into their own well-being more actively. However, to unleash the full potential of mHealth and bring value to both patients and caregivers, it's necessary to be aware of the opportunities and challenges in chronic disease management via mobile apps.

mHealth Opportunities and Pitfalls in Chronic Disease Management

MHealth opportunities

Top priority

Did you know that treating people with chronic diseases brings about 86% of US healthcare costs (according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). To hit the right area and be in demand, healthcare providers need to develop effective mHealth apps. A proper mHealth approach requires helping patients know their conditions better by tracking health data and fixing treatment progress.

Cost savings

mHealth solutions for monitoring diabetes can cause a $3,300 per person (according to HIMSS) annual reduction in employee healthcare costs. Mobile apps lessen the time required to manage patients' conditions and help to prevent complications. Additionally, mHealth improves the cost efficiency of care thanks to reducing the need for appointments and readmissions.

Therapy focus

The most positive impact of mHealth lies in the areas of type II diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular and Parkinson's diseases. Therefore, we expect a significant boost of mobile initiatives bound to the fields described above.

MHealth pitfalls

Generic apps

Only 9% of mobile health apps are specific to a particular disease. And most of the mHealth solutions support only general wellness needs by providing nutrition information, training programs, recipes and other relevant features. And though the stats are disappointing, it's still a good opportunity for health systems. By introducing more specific mobile applications, caregivers can build more stable relationship with their patients and improve the outcomes.

Quality gaps

Just 5% of health care apps (according to Clinical Advisor) are created based on rigorous research. Most consumer apps barely consider patients' needs and end up being a waste of time and money.

For example, the majority of diabetes mHealth apps can only perform simple glucose self-monitoring. However, patients would also benefit from controlling blood pressure, weight and insulin level. In addition to that, we should point out probably the most important feature to any healthcare software synchronization with personal EHR data for advanced control over the person's condition.

Scarce measurements

Only 6.5% of mobile hypertension management apps (according to Medscape) are capable of measuring blood pressure, whereas physical data monitoring seems to be one of the key components of a relevant mHealth app. Specifically, a useful hypertension management app should analyze trends in the patient's heart rate and blood pressure and provide a solid feedback. This information is essential for effective treatment measures.

Poor connections

Just 2.8% of mobile hypertension management apps (according to Medscape) are officially powered by healthcare organizations. It's a serious gap, because without any real connection to the caregivers, mobile apps are practically useless for daily chronic disease management.

Only solid integration with healthcare systems can get the greenlight for further mHealth outspread. Achieving this condition, we can hope to see medical mobile apps as default distant care tools in the future.

Making the most of mHealth

Concluding the above said, all the pitfalls actually provide a range of opportunities. It's up to healthcare systems whether to take mobile applications more seriously. But if the health industry changes the approach, the world will see a lot of really live-saving, topnotch mHealth solutions with a documented value and physical state tracking features.