Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 3/19/2013 | 64 comments

Pablo Valerio
Can mobile technology help manage outpatient care and improve quality of life for seniors and chronically ill patients who want to stay in their homes?

There are many convincing reasons why CIOs working in healthcare organizations will want to take some time to investigate these options. With the population in most industrialized countries getting older and living longer than their forebears, the number of people living with chronic disease is growing fast. Most of these individuals would prefer to stay in their homes, with proper care. 

Several mobility executives made presentations about how devices and services can be put to use to help this vulnerable population during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2013, held in Barcelona last month.

For starters, Rick Valencia, general manager of Qualcomm Life, provided statistics on this demographic during his MWC presentation. Qualcomm Life's research estimates that 80 percent of healthcare spending will be on chronic disease in a few years. He noted that by 2030, fully one quarter (25 percent) of the population in the European Union will be aged 65 or older. The majority of this population will have at least one chronic disease.

How mobile devices help you stay home
Mobile devices can be key tools in helping healthcare providers monitor vital signs and avoid expensive tests and hospital stays, as well as efficiently managing emergencies. In fact, Valencia called cellular networks "the most pervasive utility in the world."

Using Qualcomm's 2net™ platform, for example, it is possible to connect a stream of compatible mobile devices to the system, and transmit encrypted healthcare data to the hospital or clinic that is in charge of monitoring the patient. Several alarms can be set to trigger a response when some situations occur, such as a drop in blood pressure or an unusual heart rate.

Patients can be reminded to take their medication and, with the use of machine-to-machine (m2m) technology, doctors can confirm whether medication has been taken at the right times.

Other mobile initiatives include NFC and QR Tags for patients with Alzheimer's disease. One use-case example involves an Alzeheimer's patient wearing a tag who gets lost. In this case, anyone they may encounter who has a mobile phone with NFC or bar code functionality (most smartphones can read QR codes these days) can send a message to the patient's caregivers with a location and number to call. This way, the patient's privacy is protected and they can be located quickly.

Security is one of the advantages of using cellular networks. "Leveraging SIM cards, and identity association technology, Orange is overcoming security challenges for health data mobility," said Benjamin Sarda, director of product marketing at Orange Healthcare. The use of the SIM card-embedded security, strong enough for the most sensitive financial transactions, ensures patient privacy during the transmission of electronic health data. It also can be used as the encryption key to store the information in the cloud. Without the SIM card, it would be impossible to access the information.

I do not doubt the very real benefits that m-health technology can have on people's well being, and in turn, the positive impact this will have on their lives. Using mobile technology in this way can offer new revenue streams for operators, improve quality of life for patients and enable cost savings for healthcare providers.

What I'd like to see first and foremost, though, is for the healthcare IT and telecommunications industries to coordinate efforts, ensuring system compatibility, protecting privacy and educating healthcare providers and patients to make the best use of this promising technology. This way, when a healthcare CIO is asked to implement these tools, there won't be conflicts and compatibility issues between systems that could, ultimately, do more harm than good for patients.

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DBK   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   4/1/2013 2:44:47 PM
Re: working towards a common goal
Keveend - Money is the root of many evils.  And socitey rewards rock stars and athletes for what they do for entrtainment.  We need to reward people for what they do to improve society.  Where is the mother Theresa trading card with all her compassion stats?  I jest, but not really we need to care about each other and do what we can to elevate those in need.  And those in need should also do what they can to become self sufficent.
keveend   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   4/1/2013 12:41:31 PM
Re: working towards a common goal
You must be one proud father! The current society is not so keen on helping others except for a select few. I think we owe it greatly to money. Money changes people. It drives people. They have forgotten that money essentially cannot give you happiness in life.
geeky   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/30/2013 7:09:16 AM
Re: win-win
@Shakeeb: You are talking about the individual cost but I'm talking about the total investment cost.
DBK   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/27/2013 10:51:59 AM
Re: working towards a common goal
Keveend - ON a similar but different note that was a paper written by a Stanford University professor, and I highly paraphrase, that the current generation is the least likley to feel empathy for others.  In my opinion that also translates to compassion, carring and at a fundemental human condition, love.  I can tell you that I have raised my children very differently and thier companssion for others has earned them the most community service hours for their age group in thier school  Plus my youngest son at 13 has already put on 4 blood drives that as he will proudly tell has saved over 185 lives.  But i digress what will happen in the futrue if as a society there is limited to no compassion?  This might be overstated but it has to be a global concern.
adil   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/27/2013 5:54:57 AM
Re: win-win
@shakeeb: Yes you are right there will be competition but like nowadays the company providing the best service have the maximum rates.

What if I am in a critical situation and my cheap service provider send "every thing's fine" to my doctor or even send it with the delay of 2 hours. Good service on cheaper rate will not be available for some time even after the technology gets into the market.
keveend   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/26/2013 11:28:58 PM
Re: How much would this help?
If you are talking about the conclave, then the main reason why they exclude technology is because according to Christian faith, the choice of cardinals should be free of any type of external influence. There's a complete media blackout in the Vatican during the time of the conclave. I don't think they will allow technology to breech their ranks any time soon. It's very conservative. They will do anything to protect the church from this growing secularism.
keveend   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/26/2013 11:24:52 PM
Re: working towards a common goal
That's the only way I think but the population of expats will soon lead to other problems like racism etc.
keveend   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/26/2013 11:21:45 PM
Re: working towards a common goal
Well the reluctancy of the youth to marry, settle down and raise kids is the main reason I think. If they want to address a problem like this, there is no point talking to people in their twenties and thirties. They have already decided on the life they want. Instead if you can motivate children and teenagers about their social responsibility for lack of a better word, then I think they'll be able to get somewhere. This is not only prevalent in the EU. Here in Sri Lanka, Japanese universities are giving scholarships in science degrees to encourage young people to settle down in Japan and to address their grave problem of am aging population and low birth rate.
keveend   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/26/2013 11:15:22 PM
Re: How much would this help?
Oh I forgot about the media blackout. But don't you think this could be bypassed?
Sara Peters   Mobile Devices Improve Outpatient Care   3/26/2013 11:13:31 AM
Re: Hope for it to happen soon
@shakeeb  True, and it wouldn't just be helpful to people in remote areas. There's a doctor in Baltimore that I'd like to see, and even though the trip from New York to Baltimore isn't all that long, it's inconvenient enough that I still haven't bothered to go meet with the doctor. 
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