My father… not a military man, but follows a military regime.
(Wow, so cool, you might say. Nope. Not at all. We had a real tough time growing up. But, on hindsight, I am thankful to him.)
Sorry to digress, but what I am coming to is: He’s a stickler. He’s a diabetic. My father.
Wakes up early, almost as early 4.30 a.m. Then he rushes through his morning rituals as if some monstrous superiors are breathing down his neck, pushing him to complete his morning rituals at a supersonic speed. Anyways, by dot five he is all set… ready to hit the jogging grounds… Walking, jogging and stretching his muscles for one hour straight on principle.
And, I gotta tell you this as well: not just him, in fact, there’s a whole battalion of oldies out there following the same routine as my fathers.
Hold on: But, my father’s case is a tad different.
Turns out, my father dear has got several health and fitness apps clogging his phone as well… including Glucose Buddy and Runkeeper that he keeps checking at regular intervals to ensure everything is going right for him, be it in terms of sleep, weight, or his exercise habits.
And, truly, these apps act as guardian angels for him.
The point I am trying to make is: Mobile health apps have been gaining popularity like never before. In fact as per research2guidance.com, today there are 1,65,000 mobile health apps crowding the app stores in the health and fitness categories. And as it turns out, there are millions of people out there who happen to download them in freakin’ good numbers. In fact, as per a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research about 58 percent of smartphone owners have downloaded at least one mhealth application onto their devices at some point.
Not surprisingly, as per latest research2guidance reports, mHealth market is estimated to be worth $6.4 billion in 2015. And, with the launch of Apple Health Kit and Apple Watches, the mobile health apps’ market, in all probability, will be going north.
So, it’s a bit ironic when hospitals are running away from them.
Believe it or not, there’s an awful number of hospitals out there that still hesitate to use health apps, which in turn, is leading to high readmission rates and all.
Come to think of it, an app could/should act as a bridge between patients and hospitals, by facilitating communication between the former and later, which in turn could technically reduce the re-admission rates. In fact, this year 2,592 U.S. hospitals were penalized by Medicare for worth $ 420 million for re-admissions.
As per the Hospital Re-admissions Reduction Program, a hospital can’t readmit a patient within a month of discharge. If it does, then such hospitals are penalized.
For the uninitiated, this law has been in force since four years now.
The readmission program was apparently designed to make hospitals pay closer attention to patients once they have left the hospital premises.
And, by the way, since the fines have begun, national readmission rates have dropped to a degree.
Long story short: Health apps are key to cutting down hospital re-admissions.
Regardless of the stand the U.S. hospitals take, the good news is that some digital health companies in collaboration with medical centers are employing apps to close the communication gap with patients.
Here goes 5 plus exceptional examples on how hospitals in the U.S. could harness the power of Mobile Health Apps.
#1. To Reduce Hospital Readmission Rates
As per the federal government stats, of the five elderly patients, one ends up being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.
The principal reasons for patient re-admissions range from failures in figuring out the right kind of medications by the patients themselves to irregular follow-ups with next-door physicians, from busy primary health care doctors to refusal of family members in keeping and treating the elderly at home. So, apparently there are several unfortunate reasons, that’s playing a major role in patient re-admissions.
Here’s where apps come into the picture with its remote patient monitoring system. As in, it keeps a regular track of patient’s health issues when they are actually treatable. The app passes the info to the concerned doc at regular intervals, thereby keeping the doc updated and thereby helping him prescribe the required medications to the patient concerned. This way, apps help prevent re-admissions and expensive hospital stays.
Simply put: Mobile Health Apps aid in day to day management of diseases, and more importantly connects the dots between docs and patients.
#2. To Monitor Food Habits of Diabetics Before Surgeries
What I haven’t said so far is that my father has been a diabetic for 30 long years. His glucose levels keep shooting skywards now and then. So, whenever a major operation or something is on the cards, he has to get himself admitted to the hospital a week before for docs to bring his sugar level down and then operate him. But, by then, my mom is all worked up and stressed.
Only if my father had this wearable technology that Mony Weschler has apparently designed for the diabetic teens. Sigh! The technology that’s being targeted toward obese teenage diabetics would apparently help them alter their food habits before a major operation.
Weschler has definitely made a right move because no one knows technology better than teenagers? So, the technology is so designed that it helps both doctors and other health care professionals send crucial messages to diabetic teenagers for pre-operative care alters right before a major surgery.
The device is actually in a wearable format. The information accumulated will then be relayed to the healthcare team, who then sends messages to the teenager in case changes have to be introduced to the diet plan before an emergency operation.
Mony Weschler had to say this about the technology, “We are looking to partner with patients and their families in the care process. We are evaluating the feasibility of prescribing fitness to adolescents in our care which includes the use of a wearable activity monitors. The study would evaluate if we can change behavior for obese diabetic patients by having them do self-monitoring and social competitions.”
According to research2guidance just about 1, 2% of diabetics with smartphones are using diabetes app. And, by 2018, it would only rise to 7,8% globally.
This is bad, given that there’d be 310M diabetes globally by 2035. So diabetic app developers should definitely focus on cutting down the cost of these apps and at the smae time make it patient-friendly to accelerate its use going forward.
#3. To Monitor Pregnant Women
If you are women, don’t forget to check out this video. Supported by the UNICEF, the app MomConnect is already making waves in African nations. The app is specifically tailored to support pregnant women during their critical phases. It sends critical messages to the concerned women’s mobile phones, and more than that ensures that health workers are around to perform regular follow-ups when the patients misses the hospital appointments and check ups.
What’s more, it helps update medical records real-time and ensures that women can be traced back to even if she changes her health care facility where she had initially signed up.
As you might have already made out from the video, the app is proving to be a great help for single mothers.
#4. To Monitor Cardiac Rehabilitation of Patients
According to Mayo Research, Cardiac rehab patients using smartphone apps recover better. Such patients are more prone toward recording daily measurements such as weight and blood pressure. So their readmission rates, say, within 90 days of discharge are low as opposed to patients who are not used to using apps at all.
Cardiac rehab patients using phone apps recover better, says a recent study
As per the research, only 20 percent of the app user patients who attended the cardiac rehab were readmitted to the hospital or visited the emergency department within 90 days, compared with 60 percent of the non-app users patients.
“We know from studies that patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation lower their risks significantly for another cardiac event and for rehospitalization,” says Amir Lerman, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and senior study author. “We know that people use their mobile devices all day, and we hoped using it for cardiac rehab would help them in their recovery.”
Apps, if anything, helps record weight, blood sugar levels, dietary habits, blood pressure levels and even minutes of physical activity. In addition, the app also offers educational activities, like helping them acquainted with lifestyle behaviors that could further help them avoid cardiac problems, including a second heart attack.
#5. To Perform ECGs At Home
Say bye, bye to hospital ECGs. AliveCor has launched a heart monitor, approved for over-the-counter sales, which uses a smartphone and some attached electrodes to capture electrocardiogram rhythm strips.
The app then saves the information, which could later be retrieved by the concerned doc later when the patient visits him. For your information, the information gleaned from the app is then integrated into an Electonic health record. This record helps automatically import the ECG strip when the patient goes visiting the doc.
Say bye, bye to hospital ECGs. Do it at home with ECG apps
The new workflow is a far cry from the current scenario that requires the patients to visit the hospital or clinic to get an ECG done.
#6. To Monitor Heart Patients During Transitional Care
A couple of years back a Zephyr Technology had completed a 2 -year Congestive Heart Failure trail of ZephyrLIFE. It’s the world’s first remote monitoring system designed specifically for transitional care. Transitional care could be defined as a health care system that helps patients to easily straddle the transition phase – between different health care practitioners and facilities given that patient’s conditions keep changing due to chronic or acute illness.
As per the results of the study, the mobile technology led to a 3-fold increase in time between hospital visits and a 2-fold decrease in the cost of patient care.
#7. To Monitor Bed Wetting Habits Among Kids
According to Michael Myint of Prince of Wales Hospital and Sydney Children’s Hospital in Australia, for better treatment of enuresis (bedwetting) the best way out it to obtain a history or ‘timeline’ of events from parents. In other words, maintaining a ‘bladder diary’ helps evaluate whether the doctor’s treatment is aiding the kid or not.
Electronic diaries or apps are easier to use while maintaining the bladder diaries of your kids
“If recommended by a doctor or health professional, parents should keep a bladder diary,” Myint told Reuters.
However, traditional recording of such events, using pen and paper, could turn out to be haphazard and pointless.
Enter electronic diaries or apps that are quite easier to use and are acceptable as well. Some of the best apps, that could help parents maintain a record include My Dryness Tracker, Bedwetting Tracker and HapPee Time.
#8. To Prompt Patients To Take Their Prescriptions Seriously (new update)
This is what happens in most of the patients cases. They go to the doctor. Take the prescriptions. Buy the medicines. But then, don’t have them. According to the World Health Organizations, it would do a world of good if patients followed their prescriptions seriously and not go after new therapies and drugs.
In response to this irresponsible tendency of patients, of not following doctor prescriptions, Ayogo has set up a platform called ‘Empower’ that develops apps, which ensures that patients are more responsible towards their health care needs. The app has come up with innovative gamification strategies, such as patient-to-patient networking, generate your own avatar and things like that, which make sure the prescriptions are strictly followed.
Over To You Know
Despite several advantages as cited above what keeps the U.S. hospitals aways from embracing health apps?
Is it the cost factor? Or, are these apps difficult to use? Or, is it because it doesn’t fit in the required data?
What’s the issue? Go ahead and figure them out for us in the comment section below.
As always, I am all ears. And yes, of course, if you have any kind of app development ideas in mind, specifically in terms of health apps, just drop in a line. Bet, we will cover the extra mile for you to meet your expectations.