Clinical trials are crucial to validating interventions for health care treatments. A major stumbling block to organizing trials is recruitment and retention of enrollees. Remote monitoring tools may overcome this obstacle. By providing study volunteers with mHealth devices, including smartphones and wearable technology, trials can access real-time availability of results.
With the rise of cell phone usage, smart and otherwise, many health care providers, researchers and entrepreneurs alike have assumed that this ubiquitous technology can be used to improve health and wellbeing. Entrepreneurs have led the charge and so the common catch phrase “there’s an app for that” underscores the fact that nearly 17, 000 health related apps are available either for free or a small charge for Android or Apple users.
Young people are perhaps the best targets of our mhealth efforts because they are eager users of mobile technology. However two questions arise naturally: 1) does data show that these apps lead to improved outcomes? 2) is there a theory of how we might use cell phones to improve health outcomes?
Maddalena Fiordelli, PhD; Nicola Diviani, PhD; Peter J Schulz, PhD
Institute of Communication and Health, Faculty of Communication Sciences, University of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland
For the last decade, mHealth has constantly expanded as a part of eHealth. Mobile applications for health have the potential to target heterogeneous audiences and address specific needs in different situations, with diverse outcomes, and to complement highly developed health care technologies. The market is rapidly evolving, making countless new mobile technologies potentially available to the health care system; however, systematic research on the impact of these technologies on health outcomes remains scarce. Objective: To provide a comprehensive view of the field of mHealth research to date and to understand whether and how the new generation of smartphones has triggered research, since their introduction 5 years ago. Specifically, we focused on studies aiming to evaluate the impact of mobile phones on health, and we sought to identify the main areas of health care delivery where mobile technologies can have an impact.
A systematic literature review was conducted on the impact of mobile phones and smartphones in health care. Abstracts and articles were categorized using typologies that were partly adapted from existing literature and partly created inductively from publications included in the review.
The final sample consisted of 117 articles published between 2002 and 2012. The majority of them were published in the second half of our observation period, with a clear upsurge between 2007 and 2008, when the number of articles almost doubled. The articles were published in 77 different journals, mostly from the field of medicine or technology and medicine. Although the range of health conditions addressed was very wide, a clear focus on chronic conditions was noted. The research methodology of these studies was mostly clinical trials and pilot studies, but new designs were introduced in the second half of our observation period. The size of the samples drawn to test mobile health applications also increased over time. The majority of the studies tested basic mobile phone features (eg, text messaging), while only a few assessed the impact of smartphone apps. Regarding the investigated outcomes, we observed a shift from assessment of the technology itself to assessment of its impact. The outcome measures used in the studies were mostly clinical, including both self-reported and objective measures.
Research interest in mHealth is growing, together with an increasing complexity in research designs and aim specifications, as well as a diversification of the impact areas. However, new opportunities offered by new mobile technologies do not seem to have been explored thus far. Mapping the evolution of the field allows a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and can inform future developments.
(J Med Internet Res 2013;15(5):e95) doi:10.2196/jmir.2430
Seniors improved their medication adherence with cell phone text reminders, according to an announcement of a study from CareSpeak Communications.
The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, one of Southern California’s largest not-for-profit providers of retirement living communities, teamed with New Jersey-based CareSpeak Communications, a mobile communications technology solutions provider, to pilot CareSpeak’s mobile Health manager technology. The project featured customized texting services for medication alerts, diabetes and other chronic disease medication reminders, and medication tracking programs for seniors at Front Porch communities and neighboring senior centers.
For a new generation of patients, could the laptop — or even cellphone — replace the stereotypical shrink’s couch? A crop of new startups wants to take psychotherapy into the 21st century.
About one in five Americans will experience a mental health challenge during their lifetime, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association. But experts say that 60 percent of them will never seek help. The lack of available care, inconvenience and cost are all barriers to access, but so is the fear of prejudice and discrimination from friends, family and even employers.
“Stigma and shame is a huge factor – maybe the most important one,” said Oren Frank, founder of mental health startup Talktala. “People who have been to regular therapy are less ashamed of it, but people who are newcomers are paralyzed by fear.”
Online options enable people to receive therapy on their own turf and terms, without needing to update others on their whereabouts – and they offer the benefit of anonymity.
Real-time social phenomenon, Twitter, can be a powerful tool to help prevent heart disease and improve health practices, according to a group of researchers affiliated with the University of Sydney.
Their study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, surveying 15 international health-focused Twitter accounts, nine professional organisations and six medical journals, were selected for analysis of their Twitter growth, reach, and content.
Proteus Digital Health has developed a pill that can text an alert when it enters a patient’s stomach. The technology, widely tested and already available for over-the-counter sale in a pilot program in the UK is just one of several new developments in caregiving technology designed to prevent hospital readmissions and relieve family caregivers of the persistent worry: “Is Dad taking his meds?”