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Mobile Health into the 2020’s – Continuous Growth in Canada

Most medical professionals would agree that mobile health technology, or simply “mHealth”, has the strong potential to leave a lasting mark on patient care; not only from a medical perspective, but in terms of the business and technology world as well.

Moreover, not only does mHealth have this potential, but it is exemplifying this potential in real-time in today’s day and age. With the ever constant rise of technology and the adoption of mobile devices emerging in Canada today, specifically smartphones and tablets, the Canadian healthcare industry is finding unique ways to embrace this shift to create, support and report on everyday needs.   There are over 31 million Canadians and health remains as the largest industry in Canada to date with one health system, 10 provinces, and 3 territories all investing in national health. All the healthcare eggs are in one big red maple-leaf basket. In this, the healthcare system is in dire need of a technology revolution to assist patients faster and for better record keeping.

Despite the promise and widespread use of mobile health technology, health care leaders need solutions for a number of unique challenges.  These challenges include protecting the privacy of patient information shared on mobile devices, ensuring the interoperability of mobile health technology with EHRs and other health technology, and determining which mHealth apps are safest and most effective for the ultimate privacy/productivity balance.

Furthermore, for mobile health to grow continuously, it would, ideally, be best if it were to be backed up by an environment that supports its growth in the scientific community. Fortunately, the timing is perfect! Canada’s Budget 2018 Plan marks as the biggest investment in science and university research in Canadian history. With a focus on investing in people and ideas for a stronger, more prosperous Canada, the budget will increase diversity in science and help develop the nation’s next generation of research leaders.

“This budget places research at the forefront of the government’s economic and social agenda, reflecting the vital role of discovery in driving innovation, job creation and economic growth,” says Elizabeth Cannon, president of the University of Calgary and past chair of Universities Canada.  “It’s an important signal to other nations that Canada is serious about investing in research and will work to attract top talent from around the world.” And Canada is ready. Taking into account the many world renown Canadian universities and medical organizations that will benefit from this massive investment, the ROI will be exponential in health benefit return. 

Statistically speaking, 32% of Canadian adults consult health apps on their mobile devices. However, only 28 % of those in poor health do so. According to Canada Health Infoway, 24 % of Canadians use smart connected devices to track health conditions and well-being. “The findings of the study demonstrate the opportunity Canadians have to be proactive in their overall wellness through the use of mobile apps and smart connected devices such as watches, wristbands or other wearables.” said Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway. 

Taking into account the data at hand, it is quite evident that the growth of mobile technology, particularly in the health sector, is very vast. Nationalistically speaking, mobile health is to grow exponentially into the 2020’s and there doesn’t seem to be any remote sign of it slowing down in terms of current projections. The Canadian national mHealth connection is forecasted to undergo a major expansion of over 50 million mHealth connections by the beginning of the next decade, according to Statista.  

With the stage set for mobile health to continue to grow profoundly into the 2020’s, the platform itself will offer many positive benefits that will spark a revolution in the essence of patient care. 

Communication 

Firstly, the exchange of communication is a major issue within the medical field. It is, therefore, crucial for medical professionals to establish a clear form of contact amongst each other. Keeping track of all information exchanged between medical professionals and patients is not an easy task in itself.  

Having a better communicative link would not only help both parties stay informed, but also speed up the process as a whole. Less time would be wasted on recapping past information as all necessary data would be at one’s fingertips. 

Readmissions

The patient’s healthcare experience doesn’t stop once they leave their appointment.  Providers need to find ways to effectively communicate with patients throughout their healthcare journey or face further health problems in the long-term.

Today’s healthcare providers face a growing number of readmissions, with 20% of patients coming back to their provider within 30 days of care, which has led to half-billion dollars over readmission penalties.

When patients take control of their health by using mobile technology, they’re less likely to be readmitted. Thus, this will not only avoid a jab to one’s wallet, but to one’s time as well. And time is money, isn’t it? 

Attracting new patients

In the technological and digital age that we live in today, it is not unusual for patients to turn to the internet for quick, reliable information when they feel sick.

With 26 % of cell phone users having used their device to access healthcare information, this, thus, speaks to the growing appetite for mobile healthcare content.  By offering this content, a healthcare system could gain the attention of a user early in his life, thus increasing the likelihood that he would choose that system for future healthcare needs.

Demographically and generationally speaking, millenials have grown up into the technological age and it would be quite radical to think that they would not invest their future into further digital implementations. Thus, from a medical perspective, current youth and future generations will be progressively more and more attracted by the notion of mobile health for its on-the-go and easily accessible format. 

As increases in investments of research are on the positive rise, medical technology continues to strengthen itself through constantly improving its methods and systematic operations. With the growth of the potential of mobile health tied nicely to the current state of strong advancement in Canada, the timing just couldn’t be better!

Gabriel Pugliese, 2018

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