A senior's guide to mobile health (mHealth)Sunday, October 17, 2021
As a result of increased smartphone usage among seniors and the growth of silver tech (technological innovations, products, and services developed for seniors), many older people are turning to mobile technology to simplify one of the most important areas in their lives — health care.
Mobile health or mHealth refers to the use of mobile and wireless communication technology to better health-care delivery and the overall health-care system by improving efficiency, communication, costs, and the quality of health care services. MHealth empowers users to access medical consultations, report symptoms, fill prescriptions, and complete other related services using apps on a smart mobile device. There are also complex mHealth apps that manage more sophisticated functions like real-time patient monitoring and high-resolution imaging.
The health and medical industry is seen as one of the top three fields to accelerate the growth of mobile devices. Demand for mHealth services has increased so much that the industry is expected to be valued at US$189 billion by 2025, due in part to increased use by the senior community.
You may ask yourself: Why should I explore mHealth apps when I already have dedicated doctors who I can see whenever needed? Two reasons come to mind immediately. For one, if the novel coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it's that digital is the new normal for many industries, and this is unlikely to change. Secondly, mHealth provides safe and convenient health-care solutions that can be accessed at home by the elderly, many of whom suffer from mobility issues.
If you're a senior or are interested in exploring mHealth services for an older family member, here are some of the areas you can consider:
1) Remote monitoring apps allow health practitioners and family members to track vital signals for older patients, including blood glucose levels, oxygen level, heart rate, and blood pressure, using wearable devices. These apps can send alerts to doctors and families to signal a dangerous change in any of the patient's vital signs.
2) Clinical and diagnostic apps allow doctors to collect, evaluate, and share patient data — including lab results, electronic health records, and some even facilitate certain digital imaging functions. Apps of this type facilitate real time updates, video chats with doctors or schedule future appointments with health-care professionals.
3) Healthy living apps are the most commonly used category of mHealth apps and monitor metrics like heart rate, diet, exercise, and even sleep. Patients suffering from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension or heart disease often use these apps to keep them on track as they make meaningful changes towards a healthier lifestyle.
The pace of innovation in the mHealth industry is so rapid that many standard, in-office medical services may gradually become a thing of the past. Several mHealth apps not only allow older users to save time and money, but in some cases provide remote access to convenient medical services that may not be available locally. Furthermore, with the high prevalence of NCDs among Jamaicans, mHealth presents a viable solution to improve the monitoring and management of many of these conditions for not only seniors, but Jamaicans of all ages.
Source: Digicel Jamaica