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Improving Health Care through Mobile Medical Devices and Sensors

Darrell M. West

Health care access, affordability, and quality are problems all around the world and large numbers of individuals do not receive the quality care that they need. Mobile technology offers ways to help with these challenges. Through mobile health applications, sensors, medical devices, and remote patient monitoring products, there are avenues through which health care delivery can be improved. These technologies can help lower costs by facilitating the delivery of care, and connecting people to their health care providers. Applications allow both patients and providers to have access to reference materials, lab tests, and medical records using mobile devices.

In this paper, part of the Mobile Economy Project, Darrell West looks at specific applications and inventions, and discuss how mobile is transforming health care in the United States and around the world. He argues that mobile health helps frontline health workers and health care providers extend their reach and interactions – enabling them to be more efficient and effective in their provision of medical assistance. And in the conclusion, West recommends several steps that will speed the adoption of mobile technology in health care.

  • Policymakers should encourage the use of mobile devices for health care.

Moving to electronic systems for service delivery will save money, improve access, and provide higher levels of quality in both developed and developing nations.

  • Nearly three-quarters of medical expenditures takes place on a small number of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma.

We should encourage the use of mobile systems that monitor patient symptoms and provide real-time advice on treatment and medication because they have the potential to control costs, reduce errors, and improve patients’ experiences.

  • We should work to remove barriers to adoption of mobile applications that aid in chronic disease management and make these tools much more widely available.
  • With growing knowledge about diseases, genetics, and pharmaceutical products, the practice of medicine has become far more complicated.

Health providers need access to as much accurate data as they can get on how to treat various ailments.

  • One of the barriers to cost containment and quality service delivery has been the continued reliance in many locales on paper-based medical systems.

In a digital world, one cannot imagine a costlier way to run a health care system.

  • On the issue of government regulation, the FDA has finalized its guidance on how mobile applications and regulated mobile medical devices are to be treated in an effort to clarify some of the ambiguities and help further innovation.

Having clear rules that encourage desirable behavior is the best way to move forward in mobile health.

Editor’s Note: This paper is released in tandem with the panel discussion:
 
The Modernization of Health Care through Mobile Technology and Medical Monitoring Devices
 
on October 22, 2013

 

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