mHealth tools can improve patient compliance and streamline communication with providers, ultimately leading to better clinical outcomes.
With food, transportation, and entertainment at our fingertips, Americans are accustomed to instant customer service. To offer a competitive product, the healthcare industry needs to prioritize patient convenience and accessibility of care. This means taking a patient-centric approach and incorporating the latest innovations in digital technology.
Patient’s current lack of engagement can be attributed in large part to inefficient communication with their medical providers. People rarely keep in touch with their doctors outside of infrequent office visits. Plus, long wait times and red tape can prevent patients from seeking treatment unless absolutely necessary.
Fortunately, mobile health, or “mHealth,” offers a twenty-first century solution to boosting patient engagement. In particular, mobile patient monitoring tools are proving to be an increasingly viable solution to increasing compliance and ultimately improving patient outcomes.
The mHealth Revolution
The idea behind mHealth is simple: healthcare providers can stay in touch with their patients through mobile apps, notifications, and online updates. Many healthcare providers have already attempted to engage with patients through online portals, but these platforms are proving insufficient for making a genuine, quick connection between doctor and patient. Further, patient portals are too often implemented without any instructions for the patient, and complicated login processes or slow response times can hamper interest.
A more comprehensive mHealth system — including smartphone apps and remote monitoring devices — has the potential to increase patient engagement and improve healthcare service. Some tech companies have already begun to test out digital engagement tools. For instance, Google and Apple have both developed wearable devices that monitor patients’ health statistics and communicate regular updates to their doctors. Some medical technology companies are even testing out ingestible devices to monitor patients’ responses to new drugs.
Who Stands to Benefit?
For medical marketers, mHealth can provide high-impact results. When patients and doctors stay in close digital correspondence, medical marketers can more accurately assess what products a patient might need. Even when the patient’s communication with their doctor is private, marketers can use the data they collect to determine what products might be appropriate for a patient’s condition.
But mHealth isn’t just a way to increase business for the healthcare industry — it’s also an important tool to improve patients’ wellbeing. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, individual behavior accounts for 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. Although there are many socioeconomic factors that powerfully influence unhealthy lifestyles, consistent communication between patients and doctors can no doubt contribute to greater attention to daily habits. In all likelihood, digital check-ins on a regular basis will more convincingly sway bad habits than an annual visit to the doctor’s office.
The revolution in mHealth is coming, and now is the time for healthcare professionals to get ahead of the curve. For patients and doctors, digital communication can increase transparency, efficiency, and ultimately improve healthcare quality — all from the comfort of a patient’s own home.