mhealth and telehealth are terms that are normally used in similar contexts despite their difference. Mhealth (mobile health) refers to the technology used in smartphones and wireless devices in the healthcare industry. It is mainly applied during outbreaks of epidemics for purposes of disease surveillance, tracking the spread of infections, and the management of diseases.
People often confuse mhealth and telehealth. Although they are both used in supporting healthcare, their applications differ. On a general scale, mhealth refers to health self-care using mobile apps and systems.
The main application of mhealth is the delivery of health information to healthcare providers as well as researchers in the field of healthcare. Telehealth on the other hand refers to the various technologies that are used in improving and streamlining the delivery systems in the healthcare industry. That is the primary difference between mhealth and telehealth. In addition, applications of mhealth and telehealth differ quite a lot as explained below.
Applications of mhealth and telehealth.
As stated earlier, the main application of mhealth is in the provision of health information of patients to the healthcare providers and researchers in the field of healthcare. The main devices used in mhealth are smartphone applications and supporting wireless devices. Other communication devices through which mhealth is used include PDAs and smartwatches. These devices basically collect and deliver the health information collected to healthcare providers and researchers. Mhealth applications allow patients to access their health records as well as monitor the status of their health on their devices. Other functions include offering support during diagnosis, remote monitoring of patients, raising awareness, and educating the masses among others.
So, what are the applications of mhealth?
In emergency helplines. This involves a toll number accessible to everyone whenever they need health services such as consultation, drugs, and complaints among others.
In mass education and raising awareness among the members of the public. People receive health information on their smartphones ranging from ways of prevention to treatment, to testing, to the availability of drugs among others. Through this channel, the scope of access to this health information is widened to include people living in rural areas who lack adequate access to health facilities.
In offering diagnosis and treatment advice to patients without necessarily going to the hospital. The smartphone applications upon acquiring the vital sign information of a person, send it to the healthcare providers. This information is therefore used as a basis for purposes of diagnosis and prescribing treatment.
In the remote collection of data as well as tracking of outbreaks using smartphones. This helps in identifying the hotspots and prescribing measures to curb the spread of the diseases.
It refers to the remote provision of non-clinical services. It is often considered to be the same as telemedicine, though it covers a broader aspect of healthcare services. The distinction between telehealth and telemedicine is that telemedicine focuses on the remote provision of clinical services.
Telehealth on the other hand focuses on the provision of nonclinical services including training and administrative meetings. It includes the promotion of digital healthcare as well as curative care. It mainly takes place using videoconferencing interactions between the healthcare providers and the patients.
It further extends to using wireless devices for remote monitoring of patients. It serves to a great extent in bridging the gaps between the physicians and the patients living in areas that lack mobility, good means of transport, and funding. The services offered under telehealth include video conferencing, media streaming, and clinical training among others.
The advantages of telehealth include improving the delivery of health services by changing the state of patient-doctor engagements. Regardless of where the patients reside, they can now be easily connected to their healthcare providers and receive health services easily.
It has made remote monitoring of patients easier. It has greatly reduced the costs incurred to acquire healthcare since patients no longer need to make expensive hospital visits.
With the ongoing development in mhealth and telehealth, more patients have access to instant assistance in case of an emergency as well as access to life-saving tools. mhealth and telehealth are key innovations in the healthcare industry.