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Mobile Health (M-Health) is an area of healthcare that is constantly growing in the last years, owing to an unprecedented demand and rising cost of healthcare services and an increased use of mobile phones around the world. According to Pew Research Center , 88% of adults own a mobile phone, where 43% are a smartphone [1,2].
M-Health consists in the use of medical sensors, body area networks, mobile computing and telecommunication technologies in healthcare. Due to the fact that different biosensors are being incorporated in mobile phones and that these are being transformed into mobile health platforms, M-Health is gaining more interest. The number of applications present in mobile app stores, like app store and google play, have increased in the last decade. In 2012 there were more than 13 000 healthcare-related apps in the app store and in 2013 there were more than 23 500, which shows that, in one year, the number of apps doubled. Before the existence of apps, there was telehealth, which was based on text messages, phone calls and data exchange over cellular networks. At the time, it was revolutionary for patients and healthcare providers, but nowadays, smartphones have much more potential, since they are connected to the internet, have different sensors like GPS, camera, compass, accelerometer, pedometer, among others. This opens a broad range of applications [2,3,4].
The role of apps in healthcare is growing since the public is more and more interested in self-care and care of family members. According to Pew Research center , in 2013, 69% of the adults of the US were keeping track of at least one health indicator like weight or exercise routine. These allow for interest to increase from healthcare organizations, in order to fulfill people’s needs.
An example of an application is for asthma control, where the available apps focus on different approaches to both help and inform the patient. For example, some focus on teaching techniques to help manage asthma, which can be through yoga postures, acupressure and breathing exercises, or through information about asthma or treatment techniques passed via audio, texts or video. Other apps focus on helping the users keep track of the symptoms by recording the peak flow and details about the asthma attacks. There are also apps that allow the users to track the inhaler use and set reminders for medication . These apps may prove very useful in self-management, due to all the features above mentioned.
This is one of the many areas that M-Health is present and has an impact. It is very likely that mobile phones and healthcare apps will have a very important role in alerting patients to be more concerned about self-care. However, the role of M-Health is still uncertain, since it depends on the union between app developers and medical professional societies, clinical experts to develop better apps that may fulfill people’s needs.
1. J. Poushter, “Smartphone Ownership and Internet Usage Continues to Climb in Emerging Economies ,” Feb. 22, 2016. https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2016/02/22/smartphone-ownership-and-internet-usage-continues-to-climb-in-emerging-economies/?fbclid=IwAR0ZnCicotsaCM6RvcwKSgRt0x3WYJG9J2aC7uYM0g7Bj_vtYsRWeQQCIjo (accessed Jun. 27, 2021).
2. Karandeep Singh, Adam B. Landman, Chapter 13 – Mobile Health, Key Advances in Clinical Informatics, Academic Press, 2017, 183-196, ISBN 9780128095232, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809523-2.00013-3.
3. Narpat S. Gehlot, “State-of-the-Art of Mobile-Health: Technology, Sensors and Clinical Applications”, Revista de Tecnologia da Informação e Comunicação, p. 20-24, out. 2012.
4. Wu AC, Carpenter JF, Himes BE. Mobile health applications for asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2015;3(3):446-8.e16. doi:10.1016/j.jaip.2014.12.011
5. S. Fox and M. Duggan, “Tracking for Health”, Jan. 28, 2013. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2013/01/28/tracking-for-health/ (accessed Jun. 27, 2021).