Potential, and Barriers, with mHealth for Chronic Disease Patients

Numerous studies have shown the potential that mHealth and remote monitoring have for the treatment and prevention of chronic diseases, which account for approximately 75 percent of all health care spending each year, and impact 45 percent of all adults in the United States (many of whom have more than one chronic condition). But despite recognizing the tremendous benefits that these technologies can have, health care providers, as a new piece from Medical News Today illustrates, are still struggling with a range of barriers to wider utilization. As Fierce Healthcare first reported, providers interviewed saw potential in the adoption of mHealth, remote monitoring, and wearable devices for this challenging patient population, but are still attempting to overcome issues related to patient access.

Medical News Today spoke to a range of providers who worked with chronic care patients, with discussion focused on their use of remote monitoring, mHealth apps, and wearable monitoring devices. They frequently emphasized the role that these tools can play in encouraging patients to manage their own care. As Dr. Judith Marcin, a family physician, told Medical News Today, mHealth “can be an excellent way to empower people to take a more active role in their own health care.” Even wearable devices—including and beyond the Fitbit—are proving useful, with tools able to monitor vital signs, sleep patterns, and glucose levels.

Yet a variety of barriers, of course, exist, as providers told Medical News Today. For one, low-income and other underserved populations are far less likely to have access to mHealth and remote monitoring. As Marcin put it, “Those individuals that are in most need of these services are often the least likely to have the resources necessary to take full advantage of these programs.” Senior citizens, too, are not as likely as their younger counterparts to utilize new technologies; some, a recent Harvard study found, are still not even using e-mail or the Internet (a mere 40 percent are). Finally, minorities often struggle with access, with reasons including language barriers. For some providers, the solution to overcoming these difficulties lies in “setting reasonable expectations,” and in making these new tools easy for patients to understand and utilize. Per Marcin, “If it is too frustrating or cumbersome, neither providers nor patients will be eager to adopt it.”

Click here for the article from Fierce Healthcare on the accessibility of mHealth and remote monitoring.

Click here for the article from Medical News Today on provider views on mHealth, remote monitoring, and accessibility.

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