Three challenges mHealth will face in 2016 | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics |

Every few years, a new trend begins to emerge in the healthcare space, that has potential to change the landscape, and impact lives for the better.


First it was EHR adoption, next it was the growth of Telemedicine. Now as we enter 2016, it appears that Mobile Health (know by the moniker ‘mHealth’) might be the next innovation to change the way patients interact with their doctor.


Sometimes also known as ‘connected health’ it capitalizes on the increase in adoption and usability of mobile technology. In 2008, smartphones only made up 10% of cellular phones used in the United States. By the end of 2011, however, smartphones had become the most commonly used cellular phone device.


According to Health Information and Management Systems Society (HiMSS), mHealth “is the generation, aggregation, and dissemination of health information via mobile and wireless devices and the sharing of that information between patients and providers.”
While the investment world is buzzing about the Internet of Things, and the potential for Healthcare, there are still challenges facing mHealth providers.



1) Adoption

The greatest challenge of any new technology is adoption. As Geoffrey Mooreexplains, most technology has to go through the phase of ‘Crossing the Chasm’ where buyers are “pragmatists in pain,” stuck with a problem business process and willing to take a chance on something new, provided it is directly focused on solving their specific use case.

During the past few years, the growth of wearables has shown interest in the concept of mobile health tracking and reporting. According to Mobile Health News, 1 in 5 Americans now owns a wearable device of some kind, and uses it daily.

As this number grows, the interest and usefulness of the reporting data should increase too.



2) Engagement

Patient Engagement is the magic buzzword heard at health conferences around the world. The concept of involving and interesting people in their own health management seems like a no-brainer. And yet, for almost two centuries, we have had the model of passing our medical woes over to a professional. Only with the growth of the internet and services such as WebMD have we seen a growing interest in health consciousness.
The tracking and rewards approach of wearables may in fact be the key to greater engagement. As AI increases in intelligence, we can increasingly become connected to it, and indeed even dependent on it to run our lives. Virtual assistants such as Siri have become a part of the vernacular in recent years, and soon tracking reporting through a virtual health trainer or physician may also become the norm.


3) Usefulness

According to Hanson Lenyoun in recent article by Techcrunch “we haven’t seen a dramatic improvement in our nation’s health with the emergence of the “quantified self movement” and the pervasiveness of wearables. We still live in a country where two-thirds of us are overweight or obese and 80 percent of adults do not get the recommended amount of exercise.”

The challenge is in changing behavior through the use of reporting and rewarding healthy habits. Finding the balance between pestering and encouraging via app technology is a fine line, and one that many app developers are working hard to master.
Once adoption and engagement reaches a critical mass, then the usefulness of data may increase. Whether doctors decided to use health tracking date with patients is something they must decide, yet the more streamlined and integrated healthcare becomes, the more likely the future will be a healthier one.