mHealth holds promise to improve cardiac care if challenges are overcome

Man using a smartphone

Mobile healthcare tools can make a positive difference in cardiovascular care efforts, the top cause of death in the world, according to Zubin Eapen, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Duke University.

Eapen, in a column published in R&D Magazine, says that mHealth interventions can promote beneficial and sustained changes in behavior.

However, there needs to be development of a common framework, he adds. He cites the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” program as an example; it promotes a healthier lifestyle and greater consumer focus on issues from weight to blood sugar levels.

In addition, mHealth use for cardiac care isn't without its challenges, which can include a need to improve consumer adherence to mHealth devices as well as privacy and security of data on devices, according to Eapen. There is also a need for greater evidence of successful mHealth-related care intervention, he says.

While a recent Mayo Clinic research trial revealed digital tools can help cardiac patients lose weight, live healthier and boost heart health, currently very few apps providing heart failure symptom monitoring are of high quality.

But Eapen sees mHealth as a "burgeoning field that represents the promising convergence of healthcare and mobile technologies.

"To have a substantial impact on patients’ lives, developers must work closely with patients, providers and payers to understand the pressing problems in healthcare early in the design process," he adds.