Expert Corner 1253

Mobile technology – a boon for healthcare

Mobile technology in healthcare has the power to change how medicine is practiced. The effectiveness of digitisation in healthcare, especially for diabetic patients encourages them to monitor and report their blood glucose levels daily, as well as choose a healthy way of life, writes Amitabh Nagpal, Founder and CEO, LifeInControl.

 

Did you know that non-adherence in chronic diseases has been described as taking more than 80 per cent of the prescribed treatment. Yet for diabetics around the world, adherence to diabetes treatment has been reported to be suboptimal ranging from 23 per cent to 77 per cent.

Accurate assessment of medication adherence is necessary for effective management of chronic ailments. But factors such as poverty, lack of knowledge and poor follow-ups contribute to poor compliance in patients and may lead to suboptimal therapeutic goals with increased risk of hospitalisation.

Diabetes in India is a more serious problem than in other parts of the world. Indians stand at second highest number of people living with diabetes. What if there was a way that could aid in better compliance amongst diabetic patients and others suffering from non-communicable diseases?

Enter mobile technology. Mobile technology in healthcare has the power to change how medicine is practiced. The effectiveness of digitisation in healthcare, especially for diabetic patients encourages them to monitor and report their blood glucose levels daily, as well as choose a healthy way of life.

Research shows that mHealth technology is providing an exciting opportunity in a country like India. The medical infrastructure in the country is concentrated in the urban areas, while a substantial section of the population lives in rural areas with limited access to such facilities. This divide can be bridged by mobile technology.

Consultation through mobile devices using video, images, and audio channels can help patients who do not have access to good medical aid. According to a study by ASSOCHAM, India’s telemedicine market holds the potential to cross the $32 million mark by 2020 at a CAGR of over 20 per cent.

Moreover, it is predicted that with the current growth trend, mHealth will have a market worth $0.6 billion in India and $23 billion in the world by end of this year, and is expected to reach $58.8 billion globally by 2020. According to the report by PwC, India will constitute a major share of 8 per cent of the total Asia-Pacific opportunity in 2017.

Why mobile technology is the future of healthcare?

The ubiquitous access of smart mobile devices globally has enabled diagnostic and monitoring devices to render seamless healthcare services. With current technological advancements, integration of wireless technology with portable healthcare devices has become more than feasible.

Here’s why mTech will increase compliance in patients suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.

  • It’s Accurate: Mobile health technology can enable policymakers, medical practitioners and facility operators to cater to large numbers of patients with a high degree of accuracy. It also ensures that specific health information about diagnoses, or treatment can be communicated to those who need it.
  • It Goes Beyond Boundaries: mHealth tools allow patients & healthcare providers to access health records remotely, speed up processes, avoid duplication and save as much as 20-30% of administrative costs. The integration of remote data, collected in real time through home-based monitoring systems, devices or wearable sensors into the EMR is already underway.
  • It Collects Patient Data: Not only are mobile devices great tools to collect data from populations of healthy people interested in assisting with clinical studies and trials on preventive healthcare, they also help in conducting studies on patients suffering from intermittent and chronic ailments, providing new insights about wellness & disease. This data can then be used to create predictive models and decisions systems for the future.
  • It’s Easy on the Pocket: Adoption of mHealth initiatives by patients has shown to lower the total annual per capita Indian healthcare spend, and also reduce care costs for chronic conditions by 30-35% through improved treatment compliance and remote patient monitoring.
  • It’s Accommodating: Preventive health apps will be able to accommodate treatment of more patients without requiring more doctors or new healthcare facilities, thus addressing the shortage of doctors across India.
  • It’s Empowering: As more and more people turn to health and wellness apps on their smart gadgets, as many as 23 million people suffering from chronic diseases will be able to improve their condition through preventive measures and lifestyle improvements. Moreover, as many as 50 million people, including elderly, who are at a risk of developing a chronic illness will gain access to earlier diagnosis and benefit from remote treatment and monitoring.

Make Way for Change

In India, people still prefer to visit hospitals or their family doctor instead of going for an app based treatment. Therefore, perhaps a different approach and perspective to help reinforce healthier lifestyle in association with medical practitioners is needed. Mobile health technology holds the promise for a new way of managing diabetes and other chronic illnesses, by bridging the patient-doctor divide, and to raise the health status of India in a big way.

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