Mhealth has continued to grow. In recent years, there has been an increased use of technology in the medical field. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has been integrated into almost every aspect of healthcare. Patient monitoring is among the areas that have employed the use of technology.
It has really helped in terms of reducing the time and costs incurred for individual visits to the hospitals. mHealth (mobile health) is among the technologies that are now used in patient care and management.
Mhealth generally refers to the use of smartphones as well as other wireless technology in the care and management of patients. It is mainly used in educating the consumers on matters of preventative rather than curative healthcare services.
The other areas in which mhealth is applied include surveillance of diseases, offering the patients support during treatment, tracking the outbreak of epidemics, and management of chronic diseases among others. The use of mhealth has mainly been seen in areas that have large population densities and where mobile phones are used widely.
Benefits of using mHealth
The main advantage of using mhealth, especially among consumers is the convenience it offers for use. A person can continuously monitor their vital signs using wearable devices as well as other mobile technology in the comfort of their home. They can also monitor their health status in the workplace as they go about their everyday activities without any interruptions.
This technology does away with the need to always see your healthcare provider for purposes of monitoring your vital signs. With the numerous apps available, a person has the choice of the particular app that suits their needs.
Another advantage of mhealth is that it helps to bridge, to a great extent, the gaps that are present in healthcare. It allows for communication between healthcare providers and their patients without the need to meet physically. In addition to that, it allows for better cooperation between the healthcare providers. They are able to communicate with other providers and specialists on the status, progress, or need for more intervention of a patient’s condition.
Disadvantages of using mhealth
The main disadvantage of mhealth, and particularly with the health apps is their privacy policies. Often, the privacy policies of health apps are not as encompassing and stringent when compared with those of other apps. Most consumers of these health apps are not keen on these policies. The majority of them do not even read the privacy policies before using these applications. This, therefore, means that they do not know how the access and potential use that the application vendors, as well as other third parties, have with their personal information and health data.
Another disadvantage is that there are applications available in both android and iPhone stores that are not compliant with the standards set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). What this therefore means is that as a user of such apps, you are not guaranteed that your personal data and health information is protected. This further means that you will not know if and when there is a breach of your data privacy since they will not send you notifications.
Lastly and which is an ongoing concern is the accuracy of the information provided by these health apps. There is little research to support the accuracy of health apps in obtaining vital signs information. As a matter of fact, the majority of the health apps for measuring vital signs are seen to provide results that are highly inaccurate.
Consumers of these apps are therefore encouraged to be very keen while using these apps. They are advised to always read the application descriptions as well as explanations of how they operate and obtain these measurements. They are also cautioned to know that most of these apps are used for recreational and entertainment purposes only. They should therefore not use them for healthcare purposes.