Mobile Health Technology 101

Mobile Health Technology 101

Medical technology has advanced so rapidly in the past decade that it's become imperative that professionals interested in pursuing a career in nursing and the health care field in general know how to use it.One of the most exciting developments is the use of mobile technology to diagnose illnesses and distribute information across multiple networks for quick and effective care. The mobile health (mhealth) revolution is well underway, and will undoubtedly shape the landscape of health care for years to come. 

What is mhealth?
Various experts have their own definition of mhealth, but every definition revolves around the concept of using mobile technology to collect health-related data and transmit that information to a desired location. Its application is still in the early stages and is mostly used in fitness and wellness devices. You've seen it at work if you've used running apps or fitness trackers on your mobile device. This platform is only the beginning, however, and developers are looking for ways to integrate this technology in much broader applications.

What are some innovative ways mhealth is being used today?
Today, health clinics around the world are using mobile technology to motivate patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity to participate in healthy lifestyle choices. Patients can self-monitor what they are eating, how long they exercise and how well they sleep. Social pressure and competition are factors that developers have used to their advantage to benefit patients. Patients can decide to take their medication or receive a stern message from their physician. By encouraging the use of this technology, nurses and other health professionals help those under their care heal themselves in a fun and intuitive way.

The lab-on-a-chip concept is also gaining traction throughout the health care industry. The technology is still in its testing phase, but with enough research and development funding, its practical uses are myriad. In the next few years, equipment as small as your mobile device will be able to perform functions like fluid handling, sample identification, data transferring and mobile-to-mobile communication through a user-friendly interface.

What are some obstacles to wide-spread mhealth usage?
Although the benefits of mobile health technology are numerous, the high cost of material and skilled work hinder large scale developments of field-ready products. Designers, engineers, physicians and manufacturers can only work with what is available.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online RN to BSN, BSN to MSN, and RN to MSN degree programs to working nurses who already have a current RN license. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers.nursing.

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