There’s a new buzz word in Health Information Technology: mHealth. mHealth is the term used to describe mobile health, which differs from eHealth. eHealth focuses on technologies to change healthcare, while mHealth focuses on consumers’ behavioral and structural changes to foster participatory healthcare.

In e-Health, the vision is that computers will increase the efficiencies of healthcare processes. mHealth, in contrast, is patient-centered, and focuses on utilizing mobile devices/technology to collect data through text, images, emails . However, it is unlikely that consumers will adopt mHealth on their own. For mHealth to truly thrive, health providers must adopt this technology first.

Last week in Washington D.C., The Mobile Health Initiative (mHI) event took place. mHI founders Peter Waegmann and Claudia Tessier were keynote speakers. Mr. Waegmann is also the founder of the Medical Records Institute. In his keynote presentation, he suggests that mHealth may take 15 or 20 years to catch on, but the mHealth revolution “will happen.” He makes a critical point that mobile systems are just enablers of change; they are not creating the changes. To create change the healthcare system at large must adopt, integrate, and utilize mHealth technologies so that patients/consumers will see the value of these tools.

Mr. Waegmann also sees the demand for mHealth in helping physicians and healthcare systems achieve ‘meaningful use’ of Electronic Health Records. mHealth is a prime way to involve patients in their own healthcare, provide accessible health records, and increase communications between providers and patients.  mHealth is one way to help the healthcare system shift it’s ways into participatory health.

In the second presentation, mHI co-founder Claudia Tessier presented the 12 clusters of mHealth applications, which include:

  1. Patient Communications
  2. Access to web-based resources
  3. Point of Care documentation for physicians and clinicians
  4. Disease Management
  5. Education Programs
  6. Professional Communication
  7. Administrative Applications
  8. Financial Apps
  9. Ambulance/EMS
  10. Public Health
  11. Pharma/Clinical Trials
  12. Body Area Network applications (wearable sensors that collect biometric data and interface with mobile phones to record and transmit)

It will be interesting to see how mHealth is accepted and utlilized as a service in healthcare delivery. How fast will healthcare providers catch on to mHealth, and how will this influence consumer/patient acceptance and use of this technology? I think one key issue may hold up the ‘mHealth Revolution,’ and that’s HIPAA. Before healthcare providers and consumers/patients adopt mHealth, it will be critical to ensure safety and security of health information as it passes from medical offices into Electronic Health Records, to mobile devices, and through the healthcare system at large.

Original article availabe at mobihealthnews