How mobile technology could change the patient-provider relationship

Today's smartphones soon could be integral to the relationship between patients and providers, according to Erin Byrne, managing partner and chief engagement officer at Grey Healthcare Group.

"We're moving from an era of isolated content to connected experiences," Byrne tells eMarketer in an interview. "Patients can determine how involved they want to be. Persistent, two-way, flexible communication is part of the cure."

As mHealth devices deliver deeper and greater information between patients, caregivers and providers, they will become increasingly valued and play a vital role in a consumer's life and day-to-day activity, she says.

"You could be walking by a CVS in Miami, a block from the beach, and receive a message about buying sunscreen, for example," Byrne says. "You can start to connect the dots to create local, highly relevant, uber-targeted experiences."

Byrne adds because of the increasing development of wearables, there soon will be a wider range of use and capabilities beyond a medication or monitoring feature.

"What if you could get a chip the size of a dime implanted in your arm that would enable your doctor to monitor your health on an ongoing basis? It would be similar to how a pacemaker transmits data," she says. "The chip would transmit information to your electronic health record so the doctor can see what's going on with you."

One health system using mobile devices to monitor patients is the University of Pennsylvania Health System. It launched a wearable monitor pilot in midsummer and initial feedback has been positive, according to Penn Medicine Associate CIO Jim Beinlich.

Still, hurdles remain to use of the tools, as a Parks Associates report reveals; consumers remain wary about personal health data security and that could impact use if it is not addressed by vendors.

For more information:
- read the eMarketer interview