A healthier future through mobile healthcare innovation

Author: Becky Lawlor

Source: Mobile Business Insights

Next time a trip to the doctor seems daunting, consider this: in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, patients must travel long distances to access treatment. Even once they see a practitioner, there is still concern about receiving the medicine and treatments they need. In developed countries, healthcare challenges are different — often revolving around improving quality, outcomes and costs — but they are challenges nonetheless.

Startups and more experienced organizations alike look to mobile healthcare innovation to address these challenges across the globe, helping provide better access to care, improving quality and driving better outcomes. These innovations are built on top of standard mobile technologies, such as SMS messaging and Bluetooth, and through emerging technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), natural language processing, voice assistants (VA) and the IoT.

This year’s Mobile World Congress event will highlight some exciting mobile healthcare innovations that enterprises can use to improve care. In advance of the event, here’s a sneak peek at some of the ways mobile technology is disrupting healthcare for the better.

Better patient outcomes through voice assistants

Perhaps the most disruptive innovations that are emerging for healthcare enterprises are those fueled by AI and machine learning. For example, Wellpepper has recently released a platform called Sugarpod that uses voice-enabled assistants to support diabetes patients, with the goal of getting them to make regular screening part of their daily routines.

Freeing up physician time to focus on patient care

AI technology is also helping to automate processes that currently take up doctors’ time, allowing them to spend more time focused on patient care. For example, the doc.ai app uses natural language processing and AI to interpret lab results and converse with patients to explain their results to them. When necessary, the platform will refer patients to a human doctor to answer questions.

Mobile healthcare innovation increasing access to medicine

To help improve access to medication in Nigeria, the Kaduna State Government has launched a mobile technology-based healthcare program, SMS for Life 2.0. Using IoT to monitor drug stock levels, the government hopes to increase the availability of essential medications. Currently, more than 250 medical facilities use the platform and the initiative is planned to be implemented across all 36 states of Nigeria.

Today’s mobile innovations use telehealth to attend to critical patient health needs remotely, especially in developing countries where there are few physicians. Now, through the use of mobile devices, doctors can not only communicate with patients, but also provide specialist care — even in remote villages. One example is Cardiopad, which makes it possible to perform tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), in far-flung villages and wirelessly transmit results via the mobile-phone network to specialists in distant urban centers for interpretation, diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

Improving care through predictive analytics

Another exciting use of AI and ML technology is the ability to sift through mounds of healthcare enterprise data to drive insights that can improve care delivery and outcomes as well as help predict future health issues. Beyond improving healthcare management systems, there is the potential to apply this technology to patients themselves. In one example, hospital and pharmaceutical companies are beginning to explore the potential to use AI, emotional intelligence and natural language processing to gather data and predict outcomes of clinical trials.

The list of mobile innovations grows longer every day, and with it so does the promise of providing better care to more people. Enterprises looking to embrace mobile healthcare innovation will need to consider which mobile technologies will help them best support the patient care journey and how to manage those tools and services — but that’s a good problem to have.