Smartphone health-care applications have mushroomed in recent years, with proven results of enhancing mobile communication among health-care providers, increasing patient access to medical services, and improving patient care. Used widely by health professionals, medical and nursing students, and patients, smartphones have become the go-to tool for medical practice at the point of crisis. With the number of applications growing and with more advanced functionalities available with each new release, smartphones are rightfully receiving noted attention in the health-care industry as medical researchers explore the design, software, and potential of mobile technology.
To date, studies have determined several classifications or categories of smartphone health application usages. These include:
* Clinical communication
* Drug reference
* Literature search
* Medical calculator
* Medical training and education
* Remote patient care
* Chronic illness management
The mobile nature of smartphones makes critical health information available anywhere, anytime. With easy access to electronic health records, drug guides, other health professionals, medical educational materials, hospitals, and emergency room systems at the point of care, and with handheld devices capable of running third-party software, smartphones are irrefutably improving the delivery of health care. Moreover, this trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon.
Enabling remote communication between patients and physicians and facilitating remote consultation, telemedicine is now available to patients near and far. In addition, a growing number of apps can perform simple medical examinations, such as visual acuity tests, hearing tests, measuring blood oxygen and sugar levels, and other vital services. Featuring high-quality cameras with high-resolution screens, doctors can view X-rays and other images on their smartphones, while the internal global positioning systems (GPS) save travel time. Making health care more efficient, remote patient monitoring (RPM) capabilities are reducing emergency room and doctor’s office visits, reducing relapse and mortality rates, increasing early detection of deterioration, reducing health-care system costs, and improving patient outcomes.
Over the last decade, outsourcing medical services (i.e., medical billing, medical transcription, medical coding/compliance) has been at the forefront of the industry and is considered a best-business practice for physicians. Experts now predict that the use of smartphone applications will proliferate in the coming years and take center stage as researchers continue to study the effectiveness of medical apps in improving patient care, explore new ways to maximize the power of mobile devices, and develop guidelines for standardizing smartphone usage in the delivery of health care.