Mobile health is loosely defined as the use of mobile devices for health and medicine. Thanks to rapidly advancing mobile technology (such as processing power, connectivity, screen resolution and quality, and worldwide prevalence), the potential use of mobile technology to improve how health care is delivered, administered and monitored is having large and positive implications, especially in developing countries. Mobile health devices and technologies include mobile and smart phones, laptops and tablets, devices to monitor patients, and tele-care devices.

Mobile health for convenience and well-being

The significance of mobile health is apparent in both the developed and the developing world. For those fortunate enough to receive public or private health care in the developed world, devices such as smart phones and tablet computers are offering a new dimension in receiving health care and staying healthy. These devices can be seen as highly important in some aspects, although others merely a more convenient way to stay healthy.

Tablet computers are becoming an ideal tool for doctors to clearly show patients their progress reports without the need to print off the information. Those looking for an easy way to monitor their health are now able to utilize a plethora of mobile applications, such as carbohydrate counters, exercise monitors, health encyclopedias, and symptom searchers. One such application allows people who suffer from diabetes to monitor and manage their blood glucose levels. Although these applications are a great start, legal and ethical implications need to be passed before more authoritative health applications can become available to the public.

The mobile health revolution in the developing world

Mobile devices have recently become popular and widespread in much of the developing world, alongside rapidly improving infrastructure of telecommunications that make mobile contact available and reliable. The implication of this in terms of improving healthcare for developing nations is profound. Not only is it bringing the rise in awareness and knowledge of good health practice and disease prevention, but it also makes health centers and hospitals far more flexible, powerful, up-to-date, and well prepared for outbreaks of disease.

For example, new health initiatives in Uganda and Rwanda allow patients to keep up-to-date with their appointments by SMS, including the sending of test results, education, and appointment reminders. Similar methods are utilized in Africa and India to spread the awareness of HIV/AIDS by phone and text. With education and advice currently high in demand, technology has a significantly positive impact for these nations. Although technology such as this appears crude by Western standards, the importance of its use in developing nations cannot be underestimated. With disposable income levels increasing for the low and middle classes, mobile phone exposure and its use is set to increase.

Mobile health is making real differences around the world, and is positioning to take healthcare into a new era.