Our next trend in Connected Health of 2016 takes us into the much lauded world of mobile health. This year we are most concerned with using the mobile health innovations that have been created to measure patient activity, and the ability to measure activity is growing. At the heart of telehealth’s call for “healthcare everywhere”, we find increasingly enablement of real-time and continuous monitoring of activity through the use of by use of next generation wearables, multimodal smartphone tech, ambient sensors, and biometrics. This brings with it the enormous advantage of treating disease with better information. As more activity data is gathered within the context of a care plan, the ability to use objectively captured data as early predictors can have a profound impact on care delivery. For example, in a 2014 study from the Mayo Clinic, cardiac rehab patients who used smartphone apps to record weight and blood pressure lowered cardiovascular risk factors and 90-day readmissions. According to the study, 20 percent of the app-user patients experienced readmission compared to 60 percent of patients who completed rehab only. Mobile health also provides tremendous opportunity to care for vulnerable populations at decreased cost.
It comes as no surprise, then that the National Institute of Health built mobile health into its recent list of fourteen goals as such:
“Provide rigorous evidence that mobile technologies can enhance health and prevent disease”
With this in mind, as we continue to work with healthcare organizations, such as Baylor, Scott &White and Cedars Sinai, on their mobile connection to the patient population, the following trends, as catalogued by mobihealthnews, are kept in mind:
- Mobile Applications for Medication Adherence: We had the great pleasure of working with Spectrum Health to strategize on creating digital patient care while also keeping their innovations in mobile medication adherence in the fore. This trend will receive another boost this year from the use of sensors to collect confirming data (e.g., breath analysis, urine sampling, etc.)
- Conversational Therapies: The conversational interface on mobile devices is maturing by way of advances in voice recognition and artificial intelligence. These advances can have a powerful impact when incorporated into “high touch digital care” by way of interactive systems for outpatient education, for example.
- Mobile Meets Predictive Analytics: Health plans have been using predictive analytics for a while, and momentum is growing in the healthcare provider space as well. With this comes the ability to visualize data, and these capabilities will have a tremendous impact when merged with mobile health.
- Longitudinal Digital Care Plans: As discussed in an earlier trend, the march towards digital care plans across the care paradigm, and then connected to the patient by way of portal, will be our reality over the coming years. Now, just imagine how much easier it will be to gain patient compliance on that protocol when it is synched to the patient’s everyday life by way of mobile technology. Something as simple as a text messaging program can have a tremendous impact on outcomes based care.
However, there are some hurdles up ahead. The big challenges we have before us in the current state are :
- Data Integrity: Much in the world of mHealth currently relies upon the self reporting of data. That brings with it data validity challenges. To help with this challenge, keep your eye on the development of biometric apps over the next couple of years.
- Usability: Early mHealth and telehealth pilots in the industry, such as The Scripps Translational Science Institute are showing us that, by and large, we are neglecting the patient experience when it comes to onboarding into these knew healthcare everywhere experiences. In order gain adoption and data validity, we need to ensure that patients are informed along the journey. While emphasizing that, of course, “some readmissions are clinically appropriate and necessary,” Deyling says Cleveland Clinic, like so many other hospitals and health systems these days, is putting a focus on “reducing preventable readmissions through improved patient education, follow up, communication and care coordination.”
- Integration: Up until recently, the telehealth story has largely lived between medical device and integration with EHR. That story is about to get more complicated, which will also create more complex integration and interopability challenges ahead.
- Data Security: As we discussed, the increased use of mHealth and Internet of Things brings with it an increased vigiliance that is required in the area of cyber security.
The mobile health path before us is both long and varied. One thing is certain, though. The mobile health applications of the future must be patient centric and grow beyond the meaningful use checklist and marketing window dressing we see in current applications in order to be truly effective.
Patient-Centered Activity Monitoring is just one of the trends we explore in our new guide, The Definitive Guide to Connected Health 2016: 10 Trends You Need to Know. Download the guide to see where this trend falls and to discover the other Connected Health trends healthcare executives must be aware of. In the guide we also provide insights to help organizations not only survive – but thrive – in the age of consumer-driven healthcare.