mHealth: Wireless Medical Connectivity
It seems that wherever we go, people are glued to a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, surfing the Internet, checking emails, sending a message, or using one of their hundreds of apps for just about anything you can think of. But it’s not only consumers who find these devices useful; many professionals are finding that these “gadgets” are becoming quite handy on the job.
In nearly every industry, from business to finance, retail to technology, and almost anywhere in between, mobile devices have found their way into the hands of employees and executives who use them to perform better on the job.
For the medical industry in particular, mobile technologies have become extremely important. mHealth, or the use of mobile communications technologies in healthcare, has been an important part of technological developments that have taken place over the last few years. While many think of medical technology as only the design of new, innovative, and life-saving equipment, advancements can also be attributed to new medical applications, software programs, and digital interfaces that are used and accessed on-the-go with mobile devices.
The Global Reach of mHealth
Mobile phones are easy to find in a modern and developed country like the United States, but their use is actually increasing in middle to low-income countries around the world. As such, mHealth does not just benefit wealthy, industrialized countries; in fact, the use of mobile devices is quite widespread in many developing countries around the world, allowing the practice of healthcare to thrive and giving doctors the ability to provide better patient care.
Middle and low-income countries face a lot of challenges when it comes to healthcare – like lack of resources, spread of disease, large population growth and poverty – and the state of healthcare in these nations reflects that. With mobile technologies, however, access to care and medical information is much easier to come by, and healthcare providers are seeing the benefits that can be had by users in developing countries. The mHealth Alliance, founded in part by the United Nations, aims to maximise the effect and use of mobile health in developing nations, and has made significant strides in spreading health news and information via SMS messages to people who otherwise would have no access to it.
mHealth Impact and Versatility
There are several categories where mHealth is making the biggest impact. These categories span from remote monitoring and data collection to communication, training, and education, and have reached around the globe via SMS messaging, teleconferencing, and data transmission.
Devices like heart monitors and remote software systems give a patient and doctor the security of constant medical monitoring and the freedom from scheduling and attending multiple office visits. Even the recreational use of mHealth has taken off in recent years. For instance, Nike+ wirelessly connects a device that sits inside a runner’s shoe to their iPod or iPhone and logs all of the health information for the user to refer to.
The benefits and versatility of mHealth are what makes it a great innovation and medical technology, and what will contribute to its growing popularity around the world. From patient monitoring software to on-the-go access to important information, physicians, caregivers, and patients alike can greatly benefit from all that mHealth has to offer.