we’re talking cell phones here. Just having read an article on this topic – which I didn’t know “existed” opened my eyes to some of the benefits that technology provides that are a bit “in your face” or duh! that makes sense! In that group though one doesn’t think of the complications that utilizing those technologies brings about.
The first part of the article in the RecorD (mHeath in Action) talks about prenatal and neonatal care. From my understanding it is more of a triage or checkup function. I was actually surprised, though I know not why, at the percentages of the population that have cell or mobile coverage. Now I live out in the country and though we have cell phones they don’t always have coverage. So am I in that 80% regardless of the fact that when I am at home it only works 25% of the time??? And how reliable is that in the scheme of utilizing this technology as an emergency facilitator or an information source? Now one take on it has this technology being used in the facilities that lack technology typically found at health care providing facilities. So the triage and communication functions themselves are more feasible to me in this situation. A rural or third world clinic might not have sophisticated diagnostic equipment for a woman going into labor 2 months early but they may be able to call someone on that cell phone. Additionally, in those areas where care is primarily provided in the home rather than a clinic – at least the first level of care – then this makes sense as the communication tool.
In the second part of the article it talks about diabetes management. My favorite quote in the article is from Howard Steinberg, founder and CEO of dLife- “If diabetes were easy to manage,” he says, “then we wouldn’t have all of the consequences of poor control…” Exactly, Howard!! What he is getting at that I am brave enough to say here is that if those with diabetes took better control of their lives and their disease then, well, the story might be different. Don’t get me wrong, diabetes would be my worst nightmare! I am that person that mentally probably could not deal with it – and add in my fear of needles. I’m admitting it. Having been part of a team that created a diabetes disease state management program back in 2002 & 2003 for community pharmacists to provide the services then I am excited to see this new player in the diabetes disease state management game. The advances in technology since that time astound me. And honestly, I am so happy to see them being applied to diabetes management. You can have the glucose monitoring information uploaded to a cell phone to be connected to a computer for transmission to a doctor. They even have applications for the smart phones that can actually be the manager of the diabetes – quoting the article: “Lynette Ferrara, a partner in CSC’s informatics practice. “Now there are approximately 17,000 smart phone apps available for diabetes management. About 40% are for professionals, and the rest are for consumers.” I would not have guessed those numbers to be so high! Yet the article notes that few if any are based on the prevention angle – they do the reacting/reactive management. And while all these apps are great the FDA has to weigh in on many of them – which everyone knows is often a long and arduous process. One that I am not opposed to because we are a capitalist country…opportunity doesn’t always mean quality, reliability, etc.
So what does mHealth mean for us? As consumers we have more information out there for us to read and be confused by than any other time in our life/history. They physicians have that same overload. And their pressure is even greater than our because we rely on them to make the informed, “right” decisions for our care. We’ll likely get to a point that we are at a close level in information available and our ability to handle the information available.
In the meantime, if you don’t have a smart phone (in my world I pretend everyone has a cell phone because it makes me feel happy) then is this just one more reason on the list that you should? Or are you happy with the simplicity of the “just for dialing” cell phone that you have? And if you have a smart phone what do you use it for related to your health? I use it for looking up those health conditions that I perceive I have – rosacea is a good example as I have it and just went thru a major flare up and the internet has been my friend and confuser in trying to find some way to treat it. What do you use it for?