Patient engagement is a critical component of healthcare delivery, involving patients playing a more active role in their care. It refers to patients’ degree of knowledge, ability, and willingness to manage their health. Healthcare providers aim to empower patients to take charge of their health by providing them with the necessary tools, resources and support to participate actively in their treatment plan. Patient engagement aims to improve healthcare outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and reduce healthcare costs.
mHealth or mobile health is revolutionizing the way patients engage in their health and wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mHealth refers to “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.” By leveraging the potential of mobile technology, mHealth can improve access to health information and services for underserved populations, increase convenience, efficiency, and promote healthier lifestyles.
The Role of mHealth in Patient Engagement
Research conducted in recent years has shown that mHealth increases patient engagement and improves patient outcomes. mHealth technologies, such as healthcare apps, can increase patient medication adherence, improve patient access to healthcare, and promote healthy behaviour changes. By offering a wide range of features such as medication reminders, symptom tracking, and access to the latest health education material, mHealth tools make it easier for patients to get actively involved in matters of their own health and well-being.
Wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers allow patients to track their vital signs, activity levels, and sleep patterns and provide real-time data to healthcare providers. This data can can allow patients to monitor their health status and enable practitioners to make more informed treatment decisions.
Telemedicine and remote patient monitoring are other mHealth technologies that enable patients to receive healthcare services remotely. Remote patient monitoring involves using connected devices to monitor patients’ health status and alert healthcare providers to potential health problems. These tools allow patients to access their health information at all times and communicate with their healthcare providers efficiently.
What Does the mHealth Market look like?
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the world, healthcare providers strove to find innovative ways to deliver healthcare services without risking the spread of diseases. In a period where physical contact was discouraged, mHealth emerged as a promising solution. While this technology was initially met with scepticism, evolving consumer behavior, increasing demand and rapid technological advancements made mHealth solutions a viable part of the healthcare market.
The mHealth market saw significant growth in 2021, with the global market size reaching a value of $50 billion and is expected to continue to proliferate and exceed 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. This success is linked to the increasing demand for healthier lifestyles, interconnectivity between mHealth apps and other software, and the increased use of smart devices and wearables to track vitals and make adjustments.
Data also shows a dramatic increase in the use of mHealth technologies, with consumer adoption rising from 11% in 2019 to 46% in 2021. These statistics show that medical patient engagement has gone up drastically post-pandemic, with patients themselves opting to actively use mHealth apps and services.
Benefits and Challenges of Patient Engagement through mHealth
As the use of smartphones continues to grow, mHealth has been adopted by a vast majority of individuals worldwide, enabling patients to benefit from this technology at a global level.
Following are some benefits of using mHealth for patient engagement:
- Improved patient outcomes: Studies have shown that patient engagement through mHealth can lead to improved health outcomes, such as better medication adherence. For example, a systematic review of 46 randomized controlled trials found that mobile health interventions led to improvements in diabetes management in patients.
- Increased patient satisfaction: Engaging patients through mHealth can also lead to increased patient satisfaction with their healthcare experience by providing patients with convenient, personalized, and accessible healthcare services and information while also improving communication and engagement with healthcare providers.
- Saved costs: By enabling remote monitoring and communication, mHealth can reduce the need for in-person visits and other healthcare services, leading to cost savings for both patients and healthcare providers. Harvard Business Review reports that mHealth apps are projected to save around $10 billion in the United States alone and around €170.9 to 212.4 billion in the European Union per year.
While the increase in mHealth reaps various benefits for patient engagement, it also comes with its challenges, such as:
- Privacy and security concerns: mHealth tools collect and transmit sensitive patient data, which can raise privacy and security concerns. Patients may hesitate to use these tools if they are not confident that their data is protected.
- Unequal access: Not all patients have equal access to mHealth tools, which could exacerbate health disparities. For example, patients in rural areas have limited access to high-speed internet or may not own smartphones, which prevents them from using mHealth apps and other services.
- Data overload: mHealth tools can generate large amounts of data, which can overwhelm patients and providers. Providers may not have the resources to analyze and act on all the data generated by these tools, and patients may not know how to interpret the data or use it to make decisions about their care.
Future of Patient Engagement and mHealth
The future of patient engagement and mHealth is promising, with growing investments being made in this sector. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global mHealth market has shown an annual growth rate of 38.2% from 2019 to 2026. This growth is driven by factors such as increasing smartphone adoption, rising healthcare costs, and a growing focus on patient-centric healthcare.
With the rise of innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and large language models, the potential for patient engagement through mHealth is immense. As these patient engagement technologies continue to evolve and become more accessible, we can expect to see even more significant improvements in patient outcomes in the future.
How Does Inflamed Improve Patient Engagement?
InflaMed is a platform that uses mHealth technology to provide personalized care for patients suffering from chronic inflammation. It consists of patient education resources and a repository of triggers and possible allergens that can help patients keep track of their symptoms and trends.
Along with tracking their symptoms, individuals can measure exposure levels to possible inflammation triggers, which provides healthcare providers with valuable insights into the patient’s condition for shared decision-making. This feature also helps patients to better understand their symptoms and how they are affected by different factors such as diet, stress, and exercise. The inflamed app also allows patients to destress through access to self-care exercises and provides evidence-based resources that all improve their long-term health outcomes.
InflaMed is successfully helping patients to keep chronic inflammation under control by actively managing their healthcare. Download InflaMed from the Apple Store today and begin your journey towards achieving better health and well-being.