Inside the 11th National eHealth Conference: Imperia Mobile on the future of mHealth
23 Feb 2016
Radoslav Gaydarski, COO at Imperia Mobile, discusses the latest trends in mHealth that will revolutionize the Global Healthcare Industry
Are mobile and digital platforms the future or the present of the Healthcare system in Bulgaria? If so, in what form and to what extend? This topic was the focus of the 11th national eHealth conference held in Sofia, Bulgaria on February 18th, where Imperia Mobile was one of the main sponsors of the event. For the 11th consecutive year representatives of private and public hospitals, clinical laboratories, research facilities, specialized educational institutions and IT companies gathered to discuss the future strategies and trends in the Healthcare sector.
This year several arguments on where eHealth is going were presented. First, participants commented on the huge gap between theory and current reality in the Bulgarian Healthcare Sector. Even though eHealth and mobile applications comprise a multi-billion dollar industry on global scale, such tech advancements in Bulgaria are slowed down due to government regulations. In addition, several participants expressed their opinion that trends such as ePrescriptions and eAdministration are, in fact, old news, yet they still remain a work in progress because of their specific regulation needs.
Secondly, arguments were raised that eHealth focuses mainly on aiding hospital administration, rather than providing integrated solutions for the patient. It is noteworthy, that although mobile applications are targeted at medical administration and staff, the patients also receive benefits in the form of faster, more reliable and more efficient medical services. There is a growing need for a critical perspective on software solutions in the Healthcare sector, where the main target and beneficiary should always be the patient.
The fact that integrated software systems, ePrescriptions and Biometric Patient Identification are still not a factor in the current Healthcare reality does not make them “the future”. Here at Imperia Mobile we recognize that the latest trends in Global Healthcare are more closely related to biotechnologies and mobile solutions such as open sources like HealthKit, ResearchKit, and of course the endless possibilities of the “Internet of Things”.
To date, most mobile operation systems include apps that tracks steps, running distance, speed, food and water intake, etc. HealthKit is the next step in mHealth. It connects apps that record different health indicators, offering a personalized tracking platform. Most people would argue that the majority of fitness and health apps already offer such functions. However, try adding biotechnology to the equation and think again. The synchronization between sensor devices that track bio indicators (such as pulse, pH, etc.) and mobile applications is undoubtedly the latest big thing in Global Healthcare. HealthKit is all about the information – anytime, anywhere. The benefits? Doctors can have access to real-time patient information such as vital signs, abnormalities and conditions that require urgent action. On the other hand, patients get a reliable service which eliminates the need to go to the clinic/ hospital for a simple health check.
Clinical research is unquestionably the most important, yet very costly and time-consuming process. Traditionally, results and clinical insights are hard to obtain as the process requires the subjects to move from one place to another, and many individuals do not fancy the idea to spend additional time at hospitals or research labs. In similar fashion to HealthKit, ResearchKit is an open source platform which allows users to easily provide data about their vital signs and bio indicators to third parties. The benefits of such platforms are significant as the main issues of high cost and slow progress in clinical research are eliminated. In addition, health organizations and educational facilities receive real-time data on a daily basis and can benefit from reaching millions of patients worldwide. So far, there are several mobile applications using ResearchKit that generate valuable real-time insights in areas such as autism, melanoma, epilepsy and breast cancer.
Internet of Things
Basically, IoT is embedding a software in any kind of object, thus allowing for machine to machine or sensor to machine communication. From smart pills that track medicine intake to bracelets that check pulse, stress levels and pH, IoT offers medical solutions that fit in your right pocket. Imagine having a smart bracelet that measures your blood pressure and then communicates that information to your coffee machine or the smartphone of your cardiologist. Internet of Things is a trend of particular interest for Imperia Mobile that we are trying to grasp. One of the projects we are proud of is a pacemaker software that collects and analyzes patient information and tracks for anomalies, which allows for immediate action in urgent situations.
The bottom line
Mobile and digital platforms have a lot to offer to Healthcare –optimization of administrative and medical processes, faster and more reliable medical services, efficiency in the sector as a whole. However, we should keep it real – mobile technologies cannot be expected to substitute traditional health care services in general. What eHealth and mHealth can do is provide a certain amount of comfort to both patients and doctors. It is naive to assume that the Healthcare Industry could be entirely mobile…at least at the present stage.