Within healthcare today, it seems as if everyone wants to capitalize on mobile technologies. From smartphones to tablets, we’ve seen tons of apps and devices for everything from nutrition to disease-specific services. Out of these apps and devices, it’s the ones that utilize specific mobile technologies that not only stand out from the rest but tend to meet the user’s needs best. Below are a listing of technologies available within the iPhone and healthcare-related use cases:
A. Text messaging
Jennifer Shine Dyer MD, MPH, aka EndoGoddess, is known for her text messages to diabetic patients. Jennifer sent personalized texts reminding her patients to check their blood glucose levels and to educate them on why checking is important. Jennifer found that texting worked best for her younger patients as they always had their mobile phones on them. Since using texts, Jennifer has been working with Duet Health, a resource for mobile patient education for specialties ranging from OB/GYN to cardiology, diabetes, orthopedics and more.
RxmindMe utilizes the calendar to set notifications to remind prescription users to take their medication. Users can schedule notifications for multiple prescriptions, dates and times to accommodate any prescription regiment.
With WiFi access and 4G networks becoming more accessible, mobile websites are now a standard. Mobile-optimized websites, such as www.webmd.com, make it easier for users to touch, read and experience content.
You can’t talk about mobile health without talking apps. Apps, like Carb Counting with Lenny, are applications that are installed and used on mobile devices. These health apps can leverage specific mobile device capabilities like the accelerometer or multi-touch. This leveraging tends to deliver apps that are more interesting and more often answer a specific need.
With geo-location, mobile users are not only able to see their current location, but track where they’ve been, how fast they’ve traveled and how high they’ve climbed. RunKeeper uses this technology to track, measure and improve a user’s fitness whether they’re walking, running or cycling.
Devices can be connected to the charge/SYNC input to expand upon the mobile device’s technologies to offer additional capabilities. Withings blood pressure monitor connects to the iPhone and is then operated through an app to track, measure, and record the user’s blood pressure.
At home aerobic workouts are no longer constrained to the living room. The cable station ExerciseTV offers instructional workout videos for download through iTunes. Although this example is downloadable, mobile-optimized videos can be streamed online, making videos more accessible to mobile devices.
The app Instant Heart Rate utilizes the camera to monitor the blood flow in the user’s index finger to track and record their pulse. Hard to believe? See how it works in our Digital Mythbuster video on YouTube.
I. Video conferencing
Video conferencing, also referred to as telemedicine or telesurgery, has been utilized by healthcare to coach doctors through surgery, perform check ups with patients, and offer speech therapy and healthcare services to remote areas. Although this is typically used on desktop computers or custom devices, there’s no reason why this couldn’t be done on mobile devices, too.
J. Find my friends
Apple’s iPhone app, Find My Friends, uses geo-location to track the location of your friends. Technologies like this have been utilized by caregivers to track patients that tend to wander away from their care facilities. Again, although this is typically used on desktop computers or custom devices, there’s no reason why this couldn’t be done on mobile devices, too.
This most basic feature of the smart phone has been used within healthcare to call for help, communicate with healthcare providers and receive information through automated systems.
L. Headphone jack
Although the primary use for the headphone jack is audio, some devices utilize this technology to connect to other devices. Jawbone’s Up, a wristband that tracks and measures fitness and sleep, connects to the iPhone through the headphone jack to download data to the mobile device.
Within a saturated market of healthcare apps and devices, it may be daunting to step into the mobile space. However, as we’ve seen here, strategies that utilize specific mobile technologies as tools, not toys, tend to not only be notable, but more importantly, extremely useful to the end user.