The Communication Web
April 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The focus of mHealth is obviously the mobile device or smart phone. This device is the key to extending health care beyond the walls of a hospital or clinic. Special sensors can be connected to a smart phone to measure weight, blood pressure, and even core vital signs such as an ECG. Phones can deliver messages that remind patients to take action and reward them when they do. But effective mHealth applications must integrate communications across a wide variety of channels and connection points.
In the United States, 9 in 10 people own a mobile phone, and today’s consumers are broadly connected to their friends, relatives, and caregivers through those devices. Technologies such as e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter are widely utilized in mobile phone applications. So it makes good sense that in designing mHealth applications, we remember how individuals receive, consume, and send communications.
For the promise of mobile health technologies to be realized, an all-encompassing data exchange must be an integral part of the development – as mobile phones are a hub for communications and data acquisition. Facebook (either on-line or on a mobile phone) will be a place where information can be exchanged between patient and caregiver. Traditional e-mail will also need to be a part of the mix.
Finally, mHealth cannot be a simple 1 to 1 relationship. It needs to tap into a variety of interrelated members of a social network. When someone has a surgery or other medical procedure, an entire community is affected. Even more importantly, this entire group can positively effect outcome. mHealth is unique in its ability to make that happen.