UNITED STATES—We all know that technology has been transforming every industry in the world, and this is certainly true when it comes to healthcare. More specifically, smartphones have already changed how patients and doctors interact, while helping to streamline the system and reduce whatever costs might be associated with healthcare.
But can we expect this trend to continue and what makes this use of smartphones so relevant?
In this article, we consider the main benefits of smartphones in healthcare and what we can expect from this technology in the near future. That being said, let’s first understand why the use of smartphones in healthcare is rising so quickly.
Why Smartphone Technology is Important in Healthcare
We have entered an era in which companies are now more focused than ever on the wants or needs of the end user. This means healthcare professionals are increasingly tasked with better understanding the needs of their patients.
In short, it’s widely accepted that most patients want improved health. On the other hand, these patients also value convenience and lower costs over relationships. And with this in mind, mobile apps and smartphones have elevated the healthcare system to another level.
So, let’s now take a look at five predictions about the future of smartphones in the healthcare sector, and find out how healthcare will benefit from the use of these powerful devices.
- Smartphones Enhance Clinician-Patient Communication
Smartphones allow doctors and medical professionals to communicate more efficiently. In fact, the smartphone is now considered the best alternative to a pager, and it’s certainly far more capable than the latter.
For instance, a smartphone can provide instant access to files and images, while ensuring the safety and security of such data at the same time. What’s more, social networking is now connecting doctors and patients around the world, which enables better feedback and increased awareness of general health issues and trends.
This ease of access can promote efficient communication and an easier way in which professionals can collaborate–both with each other and with their patients.
- Smartphones Allow Everyone to ‘Own’ Their Health
It’s no secret that smartphone technology also provides a very ‘smart’ system for the management of patients. In many ways, this everyday device is allowing patients to have better control than ever over their health investigations and management.
The increased prevalence and sophistication of smartphones–and the fact that they are user-friendly and not intimidating in the same way as a bespoke monitoring device may be–means every patient can now have quick and easy access to track a multiplicity of health issues. What’s more, they can now collaborate with their doctor or clinic by data-sharing easily and cost-effectively.
Much of this evolution is taking place in the app space; a multitude of apps are emerging to facilitate home user testing and management of a plethora of health issues; even more importantly, many of these problems were not properly understood by patients until their smartphone stepped into the middle to provide a much-needed bridge between patients and clinicians. Many patients lacked interest, too, even if it was their own bodies and lives at stake.
Now, the advent of smartphone-enabled monitoring software has pricked up everyone’s ears.
It’s back to the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’. Software and apps demonstrate–in easy-to-understand formats–the improvement or decline in a person’s health, sufficiently that every user now comprehends their health status. Now, they have control–and suddenly, healthcare is very interesting to patients.
That’s a far cry from sitting in the doctor’s office while he attempts to chalk a convoluted diagram onto a whiteboard and then waiting two months for the next test.
A person who monitors, for example, their own blood sugars every day using a Bluetooth-enabled glucometer will gain a far greater insight into what the good control of sugars is all about, and an insight into the everyday lifestyle changes that can exacerbate or improve their diabetic healthcare–and that is only one example of so many.
However, to turn back to the issue of prevalence, which we mentioned earlier; there is also the point that due to the falling price of smartphones, a growing population now has direct access to such a sophisticated device.
Most members of a household are now carrying around a phone that can perform myriad healthcare functions, often without even realizing it. This tends to cross social grades, too–most people invest in a good phone.
Smartphone market analysis has already outlined the intricacies around why and how medical companies are turning to the smartphone too, in a move that makes sense for the whole healthcare chain.
- Smartphones Significantly Reduce Readmissions in Healthcare
Re-admissions have been a constant thorn in the side for healthcare institutions. That is to say, many patients are readmitted when there is no actual need for an appointment.
Similarly, patients are often admitted for long periods, which is not only time-consuming but also detrimental in terms of waiting lists. With this in mind, doctors have been able to use mobile monitoring on smartphones to help reduce the number of patient visits and repeat exams.
Access to vital information can help these doctors provide remote advice and reschedule appointments accordingly. When you think of it, a reduction in these re-admissions is not only extremely important in terms of the speed of a system, but also in the overall cost of healthcare. But that’s just part of the story…
- Smartphones Make Healthcare More Affordable
Mobile access also means that medical professionals can monitor, diagnose and even treat patients at a more affordable rate. True, not every issue can be tracked or diagnosed by a smartphone app but more often than not, this is actually possible–or at least, there will be an app that provides a segment of the story and a portion of the necessary data.
This reduction in cost is one of the stand-out benefits when it comes to smartphone use in healthcare, and this is certainly true for the patient. Not least, patients can themselves know when to call their state of health an ‘emergency’–and also when everything is ticking along, even in the face of certain symptoms. This saves on multiple diagnostic trips–some of which would be unnecessary or merely for reassurance–putting patients back in the driving seat of both their conditions and their wallets.
Doctors, too, can use smartphones to diagnose emergencies, guide injections and even perform pregnancy scans from remote areas.
What’s more, these systems are already proving to be perfectly safe, while encouraging further innovation that continues to bring down the overall cost of healthcare. Either way, everyone wins.
- Smartphone Apps will Continue to Lead the Industry
Telehealth apps are undoubtedly the key to the future of healthcare. As already mentioned, doctors can use smartphone apps to collaborate with other professionals and communicate with patients while monitoring their progress.
As if that’s not enough, patients can use these apps to schedule appointments, review test results, compare and contrast their data and trends across lengthy time periods, and to receive notes from or chat to their doctor.
It’s also important to recognize the speed and accessibility of these interactions and the benefit of this particular convenience; now, a person with a smartphone and a clever app might well spot a disease in its early stages that would otherwise have been missed until much later, and the earlier we can diagnose and treat a chronic condition or illness, the more likely it can be dramatically improved or eradicated.
With all of these benefits, it’s safe to say that such apps will continue to lead the healthcare industry and let their results do the talking.
There are more than a few reasons to believe that apps will continue to improve and change the healthcare sector in a multitude of ways, rendering smartphones an even smarter choice for the health of any individual, while bringing more and more benefits for healthcare practitioners.
And with the prevalence of smartphones and intuitive apps on the rise, we can all believe in a future where quality health monitoring is both widely accessible and affordable.