Revenue Cycle Management Blog | GroupOne Health Source

Mobile Health Apps and Devices: Doctors' Friend or Foe?

Written by Kaitlyn Houseman | October 10, 2014

Exercise regularly, don’t smoke, avoid fast food, and don’t forget to floss! Healthy habits are an “automatic” defense against most illnesses and patients are well aware of the changes they need to make in order to live a long, healthy, and happy life. Recently, we have been witnessing a shift in public interest towards preventative medicine. By shifting to preventative medicine, we can keep healthcare efficient and affordable and prevent many illnesses. So how can physicians embrace preventative care?

Putting the patient in control of their health might sound like a simple feat. However, when it comes to monitoring the patients’ progress accurately, and sharing the data, it can become quite difficult.

In the past, at home healthcare management devices were restricted to major hospitals and health care providers. The devices were also very expensive making it difficult for patients and the healthcare industry as a whole to adopt the use of the devices. Now, there are 40 million Bluetooth enabled professional and personal healthcare devices in the market.

Wearable devices such as GPS sport watches, wireless blood pressure monitors, smart glucose monitoring systems, and wristbands that measure heart rates, calories burned, and sleep patterns are changing how patients manage and track their health.  Low energy wireless health technology that directly stores health data to the users’ smart phone or computer means that there are fewer chances to corrupt the data. According to a 2012 ABI research report over the next five years the market for wearable wireless devices in the sport and health industries will rise by 41 per cent year on year, hitting 169.5 million devices in 2017.

Consumer interests are driving the development of health devices and applications, but increased competition will bring more innovation and improvement to the current market of products. According to a recent survey*, 25.1% of U.S. adults currently use a fitness tracker or mobile health application (Goth, Health Data Management, 10/3). Of those

  • 11% use a wearable fitness tracker; and
  • 14.1% use a health app.

Meanwhile, 14.5% of respondents do not currently use a tracker but plan to do so in the future.

Yes, monitoring fitness and health levels over time helps patients manage their healthcare and be held responsible for the outcomes but that is only a piece of the puzzle. Patients need to share this data with their health care provider to help create a better course of action and tackle any possible health problems. Researchers have found that of individuals who did not use a device or app to monitor their health

  • 48.2% would be willing to start monitoring their health if their provider gave them a no-cost tracker;
  • 46.1% would be willing to track their health if given a device by an insurer (MobiHealthNews, 10/1);
  • 57.1% would be more likely to use a tracker if it saved them money on their health insurance premiums; and
  • 44.2% would be more likely to use such a device if it helped their physician offer better health advice (TechnologyAdvice survey, 9/30).

Physicians can take advantage of the existing healthcare devices and apps in order to improve patient care. Helping patients adopt apps and devices to assist them in managing their health will not only lead to better health outcomes but also lower health care costs. With 40 million Bluetooth enabled professional and personal healthcare devices in the market now it is quite possible that doctors will soon have the ability to remotely diagnose many serious health conditions right from their smart phone.

*The survey included a random sample of more than 900 U.S. adults.