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mHealth: The Revolution within Telehealth!

May 4, 2021

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mHealth can be defined as “the use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives.” It is an innovative approach for utilizing mobile technology for achieving health goals. This unprecedented mobile technology use has sparked off new researches into the healthcare field and is being innovatively used to acknowledge worldwide medical shortcomings.

The huge potential that mobile technology encompasses for global healthcare systems is too large to overlook. In this blog, we shall delve into the intricacies associated with mHealth.

Essentials of mHealth

The world is encountering an exceptional phenomenon with an extensive surge in mobile communications. The organic sophistication of these mobile communication networks – allowing higher speeds of data transmission are efficiently modifying the way health services and information are accessed and delivered. Let us look into some of the essentials that consolidate under the purview of mHealth.

1. Health Hotline

This service is used to manage trans-national emergencies, as seen in the Crisis Text Line service, as part of the larger Mental Health America program. They consist of delivering concise health care advice via mobile device/telephone by a trained medical professional. A renowned example of this is the Suicide Prevention Hotline, prevalent in the USA. This crisis line involves administering confidential aid by a skilled worker and the provision of available resources for crisis prevention. This support has provided a considerable amount of support to the emotionally distressed.

2. Emergency toll-free Services

These services are used for posthaste access to health professionals equipped to administer help through a medical emergency. Access to such services is required to interlace with a health hotline or an emergency toll-free number. Management costs associated with these services include the setting up and linked service package of the toll-free number as well as staff and data administration costs. An example of this service is the widely-used and commemorated National 911 system in the USA.

3. Treatment Compliance

It is mainly composed of sending reminder messages to patients by voice or SMS, for disease prevention and surmounting challenges such as drug defense. It has been extensively applied to assist patients with conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and TB. It is an inexpensive and crisp way of keeping a record of messages being sent or received.

4. Health Surveys and Surveillance

Amidst a global pandemic, this category has gained a substantial audience.Health surveys are defined as the usage of mobiles for health-related data collection/reporting, in the context of mHealth. Surveillance is ascertained as the usage of mobile devices to input and transmit data to track diseases for surveillance programs. Increasingly advanced health information systems are developing the faculty for real-time monitoring and prospective surveillance, eliminating the necessity for paper health surveys. A good example of this is the Data Modernization Initiative by the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention in the USA.

Barriers to mHealth
1. Overburdened Healthcare Systems

Several healthcare systems around the world are critically overburdened. This is a clear indicator of the challenges these providers face regarding competing priorities. Due to an inability of verifying mHealth impact on health outcomes, competing priorities such as funding and financial planning are understandable. A lack of interest and comprehension about the term along with the inability to secure funding is the general dilemma faced by most countries.

2. Lack of Knowledge

The absence of basic knowledge concerning the feasible applications of mHealth for public health outcomes is also a big predicament. Most countries require a need for proper information dissemination of the benefits of such programs, set across a range of settings and target groups.

3. Lack of Recognition

Some areas have not properly recognized mHealth as an effective and streamlined approach to healthcare-related matters. Since mHealth is relatively new and in the early stage of adoption, strategic initiatives related to health information security, patient confidentiality, and standardized metrics have indeed cropped up. Accurate delivery of the aforementioned pointers will work towards systematizing and validating mHealth.

4. Cost-Effectiveness

Presently, there is not a sufficient amount of data regarding the evaluation and cost-effectiveness of available mHealth solutions. Factors like resources alongside operating costs, infrastructure, knowledge, and technical expertise, fall under the aegis of the elements of a cost-effective mHealth policy.

Conclusion

If executed strategically and systematically, mHealth can reform health outcomes, rendering medical expertise in real-time to practically anyone with a mobile phone. For the people in remote or marginalized areas, this is a blessing, as they would not have otherwise been able to access information of such standards.

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