Mobile health innovation all about the patient

The patient must be the focal point in mobile health technology development, with the promise of such tools resting on providing patients what they need, no matter where they may be, according to Chanin Wendling, director of eHealth in the Division of Applied Research and Clinical Informatics at Danville, Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System.

Wendling, a mobile and portal strategist involved in digital patient engagement, tells mHealthNews in a recent interview that it's not about what mHealth tech will be around in the next five years, but about what kind of consumer technology in general will be popular, and how the healthcare industry will use those tools to its benefit.

"These devices are part of how patients are living their lives," she says. "If we make taking care of your health consistent with how you keep track of your family calendar, organize your to do's, etc., then patient engagement should be natural." 

Consumers, providers, payers and patients increasingly are exploring and embracing mobile healthcare apps, devices and platforms, and are collaborating to create new capabilities to boost patient engagement. What's more, the federal government, via Meaningful Use Stage 3, aims to increase both patient engagement with providers and the use of patient-generated health data. Joseph Kvedar, vice president for connected health at Boston-based Partners HealthCare, has called the efforts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are "admirable" but "misguided."

Wendling points to an eBook created for patients facing lumbar spine surgery that taps text, video, pop-ups and reader feedback through questionnaires, describing it as a "staggering difference" from traditional printed pamphlets pushed into patients' hands.

She's not so confident, however, about emerging smartphone accessories that turn handsets into glucometers and blood pressure monitors, noting many consumers don't want to carry a phone and an attachment.

Still, Wendling is encouraged about capabilities being built into mHealth devices and vendors who are intent on fostering such innovation.

For more information:
- read the mHealth News interview

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