American Heart Association: mHealth tools can improve results, eliminate caregiver hurdles

Mobile healthcare technology boasts the potential to overcome limitations challenging caregivers if given support by providers, especially in the realm of treating cardiovascular disease and its risk factors.

Noting that pharmacological treatments and second prevention efforts are making good headway in reducing CVD-related mortality rates, researchers on behalf of the American Heart Association (AHA) say that the ability to use apps, mobile devices and real-time data sharing will be key to hurdling remaining obstacles in a viewpoint published in Circulation.

"The amount of information that must be conveyed and the support that is necessary to counsel and motivate individuals to engage in behaviors to prevent CVD are far beyond what can be accomplished in the context of face-to-face clinical consultations or through traditional channels such as patient education leaflets," the researchers say. "Mobile technologies have the potential to overcome these limitations and to transform the delivery of health-related messages and ongoing interventions targeting behavior change."

The authors add that using mobile technology for monitoring "provides the clinician data that far exceed what can be measured in the brief clinical encounter and reflect the status of physiological or behavioral measures in the person's natural setting."

An in-depth analysis of research studies published in May by the Mayo Clinic found that smartphone apps, text messaging and other digital technologies can decrease recurrence of cardiovascular illness and help those with cardiovascular disease have a healthier life. In particular, the researchers found text messaging, Web portals and telemedicine to be the most effective tools.

What's more, research published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in February found that mobile tools, such as text messaging, can help boost adherence in global chronic disease management, which can lead to improved health and more cost-effective care.

A report published in May by Allied Market Research determined that an increasing number of lifestyle diseases--including hypertension--is spurring robust growth in the global mHealth device, services and app market, which hit $10.5 billion in 2014 and is on track to increase 33.5 percent annually from 2015 to 2020.

Such strides, note the AHA members, illustrate the capabilities of mHealth innovation within the CVD treatment and prevention spectrum.

"Our review of the evidence to date, even with its flaws and limitations, clearly demonstrates the great potential that mobile technologies can have to aid in lifestyle modification," they write.

For more information:
- read the viewpoint