Mobile technology trends in health care
We explore the top trends in mobile health care. Topics include: health care portals, caregiving portals, smartphone apps, real-time monitoring, and automated medication management systems.
Health Care Portals
Following hospital discharge home care will continue with smart technology.
Over 1 in 5 of people admitted to hospitals (2008) were over the age of 75, and those aged 85 or older were 2.5 as likely to need nursing care upon discharge when compared to those aged 65-74 .
Technologies such as Microsoft’s HealthVault Community Connect, “a portal solution that helps connect health care institutions to their referring communities and patients,” according to Microsoft’s Luisa Monge , is just beginning to be deployed as part of hospital admission -- where discharge planning must begin if it is ever to function properly .
What to expect:
With the increased adoption of electronic health records, health care providers will find that doctor's orders for medications and diagnostics will be electronically available after hospitalization during rehabilitation or as a part of follow-up visits.
Recovering patients will access post-discharge information, doctor communication, peer support, and schedule appointments using health portal websites giving them unparalleled independence, and control.
People will begin to track and monitor their health and upload information to their health portal for more engagement in the responsibilities of staying healthy.
Caregiving coordination portals will multiply.
From 2010 to 2012 there has been tremendous growth in the number of Web portals that enable health care customers to search for caregiving services, read content about how to deal with caregiving issues, and access consumer reviews of services.
- http://retirementhomes.com offers discussion forums about retirement homes
- http://caring.com and http://ourparents.com provide geographically-based search capabilities combined with expert advice, content articles, and the ability to write reviews
- http://sharethecare.com enables family caregivers to establish a schedule that lightens the caregiving load
- http://caringbridge.com offers a private site for caregivers to provide updates to invited friends and family in the event of a major illness
What to expect:
Family caregivers should expect video calling capabilities similar to Skype to be a tool for Geriatric Care Managers. Video calls bring together siblings, family, parents, and care recipients to improve communication and personalize the health care experience.
Home care agencies will begin delivering caregiving functionality that is available on the Internet and mobile devices to encourage family participation and better coordination of caregiving services.
Smart phone health related apps will increase by 78%
By the end of 2010, the number of smart phone health related apps increased by 78% according to Mobile Health News .
There is a strong trend in Ontario for smart phones to become a method that empowers Ontarians to track their own health and fitness information. The Ontario government is working to develop solutions and services that will put valuable health information in the hands of Ontarians through powerful health care portal services. These portals can be fully accessed using smart phones, anywhere and at anytime.
Some of the powerful health care management tasks that can be accomplished using mobile portal technology include:
- Important phone numbers, medications and related reminders, appointments and related reminders
- How to find a nearby doctor when you’re traveling
- ePrescriptions: digital prescriptions that can be sent to a pharmacy via a smart phone
- Glucose meters that upload data to a health portal using wireless, Bluetooth, or cellular connection; alerting health care providers to alarming trends and to provide valuable data to their electronic health record
What to expect:
This trend will only strengthen as adoption of the smart phone continues to replace traditional cell phones. Health-related applications available for the iPad, iPhone, and Android smart phones will grow to the tens of thousands, most of them free.
Personal emergency response systems will become smarter.
Seniors will have wearable devices that enable them to obtain help in the event of a fall, at times when their family or caregivers are away.
Philips developed Lifeline with Auto Alert (http://lifelinesys.com) – with an integrated fall detector that notifies the designated responders even if the emergency button is not pressed, in the event of a loss of consciousness or immobility.
Mobile Help (http://mobilehelpsys.com) launched a GPS-traceable device that can be worn wherever you go to provide real-time location for the elderly who are prone to disorientation, have balance issues, are frail, or experience memory loss.
What to expect:
Mobile devices that include built-in GPS tracking and fall detection will become popular and health care providers, caregivers, and family will have new technological options to assist elderly and cognitively impaired individuals lead safer and more independent lives.
Home Medication Management Systems
Medication dispensing systems and services will improve.
TabSafe is one example of a technology and service that helps seniors to maintain an independent and healthy lifestyle for as long as possible. These medication management systems remind, dispense, alert and post information on compliance, inventory, and other health information for secure access over the Internet.
MedMinder and Philips Lifeline’s enhanced Medication Dispensing Service have recently launched similar produces and services in 2011 and 2012.
What to expect:
Pharmacies have not broadly agreeing to work with customers to pre-loading devices at a reasonable price. Pharmacists are not always willing to participate when there are complex medication regimens because of fears of safety issues. Education and acceptance is required before wide adoption of this technology is achieved.
Pharmacies will become more engaged in partnering with companies like Vitality and GlowCaps, that uses both light and sound to remind family caregivers who want to make sure that a medication was opened and removed – even when they are not with the care recipient.
 L. M. Orlov (2011). Trends in Home Care Technology for 2011. Available from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website. From http://www.thefamilycaregiver.com/ontario/articles_resources/article_view.php?article_id=550
 Microsoft (2012). Microsoft in Health: Health Portals. Available from the Microsoft website. http://www.microsoft.com/health/ww/solutions/Pages/health-portals.aspx