Mobile health, or m-Health for short, covers medical and public health activities performed using mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers or patient monitoring devices. M-Health is a new, fast-growing field that is becoming increasingly important in the transformation and digitalization of healthcare as well as in improving its quality and efficiency. Today long waiting for a doctor’s appointment or standing in line is no more standard. With the progress and development of modern technologies, patients can count on an entirely new quality of service, in any field of healthcare sector.
Providing virtually healthcare doesn’t have to be complicated
The mobile health applications market is developing very fast. The most popular are those concerning physical activity (31%), programs with medical information (17%) and the so-called wellness (15%). Other places are occupied by dietary applications (7%) and health management programs (7%) used, among others, to monitor health parameters, emotional states or to control the use of medicines. What is important, the research shows that patients willingly use new technologies to contact their doctors. The development of m-Health and telemedicine sector is also positively evaluated by doctors. 40% of them trust that mobile tools can reduce the number of visits to medical facilities and 93% of experts believe that mobile applications can improve patients’ health.
Popular health applications include those that offer advice on how to protect yourself from, for example, adverse weather conditions, such as sun exposure, as well as those for analyzing physical activity. Of course, this is not the end of the range. There is also a growing interest in applications that enable the appointment and realization of remote visits to physicians. Modern m-Health solutions provide increased access to care, making it easier not only for patients to receive medical advice but also for healthcare professionals to provide it. For example, for doctors who treat dermatological diseases, visual assessment is an essential element of evaluation and diagnosis. Advances in medical technology, which enable the transmission of high-resolution images and videos, have opened the door to dermatological e-Health programs. Thus, providing healthcare virtually doesn’t have to be complicated.
Expansion of medicine digitalization in pandemic times
Under International Healthcare Regulations, all countries are required to have basic capacity to ensure preparedness for infectious threats that have the potential to spread internationally. Research and development of new methods of dealing with crises using modern technologies often take place during outbreaks when innovation is an absolute necessity. This was the case with the pandemic of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-21, which was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020.
The orders to stay at home introduced in many countries have significantly reduced patients’ access to medical care. At that time, it became clear that telephone advice and online medical assistance would soon be of great interest to patients and doctors alike. Thanks to them it is possible to keep a social distance, without having to wait a long time for an appointment and postpone it.
An unexpected consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is that governments around the world need to rethink the role of digital technology in health care. For example, to keep people away from hospitals, the US and Australian governments have approved the reimbursement of telemedicine consultations, allowing patients to talk to doctors via video. The UK government, on the other hand, launched a coronavirus chat to reduce pressure on the National Health Service and reduce personal contact. Experts say that such innovations will help in the long run to reduce the number of visits to medical facilities and speed up the treatment process. What is more, thanks to the use of m-Health solutions, the availability of medical services will also increase, which, as we know, was a problem in many countries long before the Covid-19 pandemic.
How digital technologies are changing the dynamic of the healthcare sector?
As with many other fields, healthcare has undergone profound changes in the last decade due to the development of new technologies. These include not only improvements in electronic medical records, but above all, the development of telemedicine. Once you had to go to a physician’s office to find out what is the cause of the ailments or if you are exposed to future problems. Today we can meet with a specialist from anywhere, quickly get advice and treat ourselves relatively easily.
The m-Health solutions enable communication with nurse or doctor via smartphone or computer. All you need is an Internet connection and a dedicated application. You can take a photo or video of your condition and send it to the right professional who can watch it and recommend further action. This will allow for a quick diagnosis without having to make an appointment and spend time in the waiting room. The smoothness of operation is ensured by SaaS services based on cloud solutions, highly scalable and secure, as well as mobile applications. More and more medical institutions decide to implement such systems to provide patients with an even better level of service and increase the availability of medical care.
Today, doctors are also supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning, which provide even better imaging using robots. This ensures that many problems reported by patients are thoroughly examined, and every anomaly is quickly diagnosed, ensuring proper treatment. One of the hottest trends that have emerged in the dermatology industry is whole-body dermoscopy using improved automated mapping technology. Thanks to the extremely high-resolution images (50 megapixels), the structure of skin nevi can be assessed by the doctor based on the clinical picture. The detected birthmark is automatically identified and can also be transferred to a three-dimensional body map of patients. This enables a quick comparison of skin lesions during subsequent visits, which is very important for early detection of skin cancer.
The advantages and benefits of digitalization in medicine
Does the digitization of the medical sector benefit? There can only be one answer to this question – yes! The key advantages include:
- Telemedicine provides a practical solution to the problem, enabling patients to receive the necessary treatment regardless of where they live.
- Quick advice from a specialist and easy access to medical records. For example, if suddenly there are skin lesions on your body, you can take a picture of them and send them to your doctor. The dermatologist will order additional tests, make a diagnosis and issue an e-prescription based on the collected information. Everything without leaving home!
- Thanks to the digitalization of medical services, it is also easy to monitor the progress of treatment. You can send a message to the doctor or ask for quick video consultation or chat to verify whether the implemented treatment brings the expected results.
- The development of the m-Health sector also contributes to the reduction of operating costs of medical facilities. In many cases visits do not require direct contact between the patient and the doctor or physiotherapist, as is the case with surgery, for example. Visits can be arranged more often because there is no need to wait for the exchange of patients in the office, and the costs associated with operating the reception desk or preparing the offices are reduced.
- A significant advantage of digitizing the medical care sector is also the improvement of the diagnostic process. The fast flow of information allows doctors to verify the patient’s condition and refer to appropriate examinations. Thus, some diseases, such as skin cancer, can be detected at an early stage of development and thus increase the patients’ chances for recovery.
Meet Help Doctor – integrated internet platform connecting patients and medical specialists
In response to the market demand, KLG Solutions created Help Doctor – application which brings together patients and nurses, physiotherapists, doctors of various specialties. All you need to do is create an user account, and after a while, you will be able to search for an available specialist and get medical advice. A great advantage of Help Doctor is the fact that it works both on desktop and mobile versions on iOS and Android. Thanks to this, patients can quickly have a medical consultation. On the other hand, doctors receive support for their daily work and the possibility of acquiring new patients, using modern methods of promoting the quality of their work.
Benefits for doctors using digital applications like Help Doctor
The use of medical applications, such as Help Doctor, brings several benefits to medical institutions and specialists. The key ones include:
- Individual visit calendar
One of the most critical elements in the work of every nurse, physiotherapist and doctor, is a calendar presenting a schedule of visits. Using modern medical applications, such as Help Doctor, it takes just a few clicks to inform patients about the hours when the doctor is available and encourage them to make appointments.
- Medical records in one place
Each physician using the Help Doctor service receives access to electronic medical records of each of their patients. In this way, all necessary information is always available, regardless of place and time, which speeds up the diagnosis.
- Fast payment
Using Help Doctor application also has a positive impact on doctors’ finances. Verification of conducted visits is fast, which makes it easy to perform summaries, and payments for completed visits are quickly transferred to physicians’ accounts.
- Guaranteed promotion
The use of medical applications, such as Help Doctor, eliminates the need for specialists to promote services individually. Each of the specialists who set up an account in the service can precisely describe their specialization and indicate the types of diseases they deal with. Thanks to this, patients can quickly find the nurse or doctor they need and order an appointment.
- Access to patient database 24h/7
Mobile applications work regardless of place and time. Practically all of us use a smartphone. This allows patients to make appointments remotely whenever they need it. For physicians, this means one thing – more frequent meetings with patients, the possibility of improving qualifications through practice and greater profits.
Help Doctor is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through digital health
The ability to remotely arrange visits and carry them out makes fewer people visit medical facilities. In this way, the risk of the spread of coronavirus is reduced. Help Doctor service provides comprehensive medical assistance through integration with doctors of various specialties, nurses and pharmacy networks. The speed of appointments is supported by the geolocation option, which allows you to search for a specialist close to home, and integrated financial systems facilitate online payment. With the help of Help Doctor, it is also possible to order diagnostic tests with downloading material at the patient’s home or renting professional medical equipment. Just a few clicks are enough to get comprehensive medical care, which is crucial during a pandemic and supports actions aimed at reducing the number of illnesses.
Jerzy Giersz, Ph. D.
KLG Solutions – www.klgsolutions.pl – is a developer of medical applications: Help Doctor, Nursility, Biotrack (implemented in USA).