With the government wanting to introduce a 7-day NHS, questions are being asked as to how this could be put into action. With two former government health ministers, both voicing their support for the use of the latest technologies in the NHS and the healthcare community, mobile apps could be the answer. Implemented properly, the use of mobile apps could serve patients more effectively, whilst also helping to address the resource issues facing many healthcare providers in the UK.

“With 19 million missed appointments in the UK alone, there are huge challenges that face healthcare providers” said Alana Saunders, mobile consultant at Mubaloo, “We are all aware of the constraints healthcare providers continue to face. Mobile apps have the potential to deliver improvements before patients even need treatment, this can lead to lower costs and address health issues before they progress further.”

Research published by GSMA, with management consultancy PwC, estimates that mobile health could cut healthcare costs by up to $400 billion across developed countries by 2017.

Healthcare providers need to work alongside patients to help them understand the benefits of utilising apps and wearables to aid with care. The NHS is pioneering this approach with support to 17 healthcare innovators to roll out their ideas across the health service. However, more may need to be done to explain the benefits to both workers and employees.

A survey app, developed by Care at Hand, helps home care workers input changes in the patient’s health on a day to day basis. This data provides healthcare practitioners with a better understanding of the problem and therefore how best to tackle it, without having to visit a hospital. With this technology in place, Care at Hand has seen a 40 percent reduction in readmissions within 30 days. This has been as a direct result of deploying nursing staff skills more effectively, at patients’ homes, to address the appropriate symptoms.

“There are over eight million people in the UK who already use some form of wearable technology. Whilst this is helping people to be more aware of their own health and fitness, healthcare providers often only have insight into the current health of patients when they come in. Monitoring patients in hospitals can be very costly. Healthcare providers should be working to understand how to better utilise technology to make doctors more aware of the triggers for patients.” says Alana Saunders.

Preventing readmission is a way hospitals can reduce costs. Seamless MD is an interactive app developed for surgical patients. The app replaces paper based patient instructions with an interactive interface to deliver post surgery activities and reminders to prevent post surgery complications and the need for readmission. The app allows the patient to self manage and track recovery which feeds back to the healthcare provider to monitor their recovery.

Mobile apps are helping consumers be more aware of their health, but unless it’s being used by the healthcare professionals it won’t work. You’ll know if you need medical attention when it’s too late, or if you’ve broken a bone. Even though there are benefits of mobile health apps, many healthcare professionals are yet to be convinced. According to a recent study by The Economist and SAP, nearly half (49 per cent) of healthcare leaders think consumer wariness about privacy violations could be a stumbling block for adoption, while just over half (51 per cent) say data privacy risks are their biggest concern. Healthcare providers need to realise that mobile health apps, when implemented properly, can help to use time more efficiently and increase the level of care for the patient.

Due to the nature of the industry, careful considerations need to be taken when implementing mobile into healthcare processes. Protecting the personal data and improving patient care should be a main priority. To further understand the challenges and the benefits of mobile for healthcare providers, click here to access our white paper.

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