Technology continues to drastically change the face of healthcare, and in turn, senior care. Communities that serve aging adults are scrambling to roll out technology based initiatives to keep up with industry standards and resident demand. Electronic Medical Records and resident WiFi access is just the tip of the senior technology iceberg. Most recently, mHealth solutions are starting to peak the interest of potential residents, professional referral sources, and senior care executives. But what is all the buzz really about, and will residents even entertain the idea of mHealth in the first place?
What is mHealth?
mHealth, or mobile health, is health care for the modern age. Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians are available via video calls, chat, or even text message, to talk with and diagnose patients. Often times, patients call in with easily diagnosable conditions, such as the common cold, or can text with questions or updates following procedures or surgeries.
What are the benefits of mHealth?
While the industry is still relatively new, mHealth is growing in global revenue with no signs of stopping. In 2010, mHealth apps brought in revenue around $104 million. By 2017, the mHealth application revenue is projected to exceed $26 billion. This much growth appears to be warranted; there are plenty of benefits to successful mHealth usage.
mHealth keeps sick, and possibly contagious, people out of doctor’s waiting rooms. This alone can translate to less germs for those who come into the office. Busy professionals, and people who do not drive, are able to get access to medical care that may have otherwise been out of reach due to schedule conflicts or bus schedules. Patients are also able to ask questions about their condition or procedure via text or chat that they may otherwise feel uncomfortable asking in person.
What could mHealth bring to aging adults?
While the mHealth options are appearing on the senior care field, there is still much to look forward to. Seniors will have access to medical care that extends beyond an annual preventative care check up or illness visit. Instead, seniors will have the ability to work with their own doctor via mHealth as well as specialists that are either down the street or across the country.
mHealth solutions may also provide an opportunity for better physician and senior care staff communication. Instead of faxing or emailing doctor orders or calling to leave a message for order clarification, mHealth solutions could provide quick face-to-face conversations between nurses and other clinicians. There is real possibility as well for mHealth applications syncing up to health monitoring technology right at the senior care community. Doctors could be aware of early illness symptoms that the health monitoring technology discovered, hopefully causing investigation and possibly keeping residents healthier through early intervention.
How do you make mHealth a reality at your community?
Senior care communities are already seeing residents move in armed with a tablet and smartphone. It is wise to stay ahead of the curve and determine what mHealth could look like for residents moving forward. First, executives should assure they have the network to support the additional online traffic that mHealth could cause. Next, clinicians should work with their existing health monitoring technology company to determine what options there are for communicating with physicians via mHealth applications. Finally, executives should assure that a solid IT program is in place that can handle mHealth questions from residents and make mHealth applications accessible for beginning and advanced users.
Carve out your community as one on the forefront of senior based technology, using ideas like mHealth to keep residents aging in place for as long as possible. Do you currently use mHealth personally or at work? What options might be possible if you added mHealth to your senior care community?