Impact of Smartphone On Medicine And Healthcare – A Review

Impact of smartphone on healthcare

Objective of the report:

This report will elucidate, with examples, the ways in which smartphone can expedite continuing medical education, patient care, and communication.

Introduction:

The field of medicine is not untouched by the resounding effects of smartphone technology. One market research firm estimates that 72% of US physicians use a smartphone, and the research firm expects this number to rise [1]. Another study states that 85% of medical providers working in Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education training programs reported use of the smartphone [2].

Smartphones play a vital role in the practice of medicine today by helping in:

Smartphone's impact on healthcare
Smartphone’s impact on healthcare

 

Patient Care and Monitoring:

One of the most difficult tasks for a doctor is constant monitoring of patients and consequently providing constant care to the patients. The research that went into this report found several examples of the use of the smartphone’s features for patient monitoring.

Let’s take the example of the android app iWander which deals with the risk of wandering associated with Alzheimer patients. The app works by using the smartphone’s GPS to track the patient at all times. The patient’s age, level of dementia and home location on the GPS are input into the software. If the GPS detects that the patient is away from his or her home (for example, uncharacteristically late in the day or during inclement weather), the algorithm may predict that the patient has become confused. The app then requests that the patient to manually confirm his/her status. Not providing confirmation triggers an alarm that notifies the patient’s family and primary care doctor or contacts emergency personnel.

Monitoring diabetes patients’ care through smartphone apps has gained momentum in the industry all across the globe. Patients with type 1 diabetes are among those who could benefit from smartphone technology, by using Diabeo [3]. Diabeo is an app that collects information such as self-measured plasma glucose, carbohydrate counts, and planned physical activity prior to making insulin dosing recommendations. Researchers in France conducted a 6-month multicenter study of 180 adult patients with type 1 diabetes with glycated hemoglobin above 8%. They found that patients using Diabeo together with telephone conversations had lower glycated hemoglobin levels than those with clinic visits. The app was used safely with no differences in hypoglycemic events.

LifeInControl, in India, is one of the very first applications to leverage smartphone technology in providing comprehensive diabetes care program. As a doctor, you can not only monitor the patient’s vital logs, you can also design and provide care programs suited for individual patients and monitor the adherence to the care program remotely. Moreover, you can set up your own digital diabetes clinic and monitor a number of patients at the same time from a single platform – without multiple appointments.

 Health Apps for Patients and Their Impact:

Weight loss and fitness apps are among the most used. The apps Lose It! and Calorie Counter provide a way for people to keep track of how many calories they consume and burn for better control of their weight loss goals [4].

LifeInControl app helps patients keep a constant tab on their blood sugar levels, and their diet and exercise regime. Based on the data collected from the patients through the app, doctors and coaches can prescribe tailor-made care program for individual patients. Reminders through the app help patients comply with their prescribed care program and keep up-to-date with their doctor appointments.

Education, Communication, and Research:

One of the vital means to reduce medical errors is the timely communication within the hospital and among the hospital staff. The internal medicine program at Toronto General Hospital conducted a study using dedicated smartphones for each medical team [5]. Nurses could call the team or use a Web program to send emails to these phones for less-urgent issues. Overall, surveys from residents reported:

Survey findings
Survey findings

Doctors who were trained to use a smartphone app for teaching advanced life support had significantly improved scores during cardiac arrest simulation testing [8]. A survey among medical residents in Botswana showed how a smartphone preinstalled with medical apps can be an effective way to obtain information in a resource-poor region [9].

Summary:

The most important use of the smartphone in the healthcare industry is patient care and monitoring. We found ample evidence and examples illustrating how smartphone apps could improve quality of life and decrease financial burden on patients with chronic diseases like Diabetes and Alzheimer.

For patients and people in general, we found a wide range of apps that not only allowed better management of their diseases but also enhanced communication with health care providers.

This report also found a large number of articles that discussed the role smartphone are playing in improving communication on internal medicine wards. Many medical care providers are looking at smartphones as tools for remote diagnosis.

We also find some examples of the smartphone’s use in education, such as a program that teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the use of smartphones by students in resource-poor countries.

Conclusion:

As the role of the smartphone continues to grow, we can only expect that its role in medicine and healthcare will expand with more doctors, patients and hospitals taking to it for better care programs and remote monitoring.

The smartphone has a very bright future in the world of medicine, while doctors, engineers, and others alike continue to contribute more ingenuity to this dynamic field. It is our hope that by informing the medical community of the numerous ways in which the smartphone can be used to benefit health care providers, patients, and their families, the smartphone may one day be recognized as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool that is as irreplaceable as the stethoscope has been in the practice of medicine.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21560878
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22052129
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21266648
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21268794
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20690190
  6. http://www.jmir.org/2011/2/e31
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22426057
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21401537
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22171597

Main Report Reference:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3510747/

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