Mobile Phones and Senior Citizens (IV): mHealth, an Opportunity to Improve the Quality of Life of our Senior Citizens

Telemedicine and mHealth apps will adapt more and more to smartphone technology in the future, especially those targeting the senior citizens segment.

The mHealth application market will grow dramatically over the next few years according to various studies. One of the possibilities offered by these terminals are important improvements in health management, especially in the senior citizens segment.

The mHealth sector continues to evolve and the new capacities of smartphones, with sensors of all kind, are promoting these innovations. Monitoring our physical activity and certain health aspects (body temperature, blood pressure) is already possible now with these terminals and in some cases their capacities can be expanded even more by using special accessories.

According to a recent study by ABI Research, the mHealth applications market will quadruple up to 400 million dollars by 2016 and will radically change the way we access healthcare and medical assistance. Doctors will obviously not disappear, but they will have much more information about our health record, which will also be more accessible and receive updates from more different sources.

The Transformation of Health Care

As mentioned earlier, this migration towards new models of health care management will affect the entire population. But its impact will be especially tangible among senior citizens, those ‘connected elderly’, who make the most frequent use of the available medical services.

Handling follow-up on medical treatments will improve greatly as well in this future scenario. Mobile applications can not only monitor our medication intake at the indicated times but also the amounts left of each medication to electronically request prescription renewal. And patients returning home after a period of hospitalization normally do so with quite a stack of paper full of information and instructions which may later be difficult to understand properly. In these situations, mHealth systems offer much more complete and detailed information for these periods of recovery.

Some experts talk about possible fraud reduction in the health system and medical services, which would be able to control issues like exaggerated medicine prescription more effectively. Doctor-patient communication will improve as well: For example, doctors and their assistants will be able to inform patients of delays in their schedule to avoid unnecessary waiting time.

Mobile Phones and Senior Citizens (IV): mHealth, an Opportunity to Improve the Quality of Life of our Senior Citizens

Remote medical support in rural or sparsely populated areas will be one of the main
benefits of massive smartphone adoption among senior citizens.

Image | Geekinsider

Mobile telemedicine

And another advantage is, of course, telemedicine: Senior citizens in rural areas can get access to “virtual doctor’s appointments” if the medical staff considers this kind of preliminary care to be sufficient.

The way telemedicine entered the mobile devices sector is a reference which applies to all scenarios. A study by the prestigious Mayo Clinic using these kinds of systems to evaluate patients with cerebrovascular diseases in remote areas demonstrates this.

The experiment, which combined remote medical support from a specialist with doctors personally examining patients in rural areas, was a success. Dr. Bart Demaerschalk, professor for neurology and medical director at the Mayo Clinic, claims that “essentially, what this means, is that telemedicine can fit in our pockets”.

Practically all the branches of telemedicine will continue to benefit from technological progress in mobile technology. Tele-diagnostics, tele-consultation and other branches like tele-psychiatry, tele-cardiology or the very promising tele-rehabilitation may be fields where mHealth for senior citizens can make a real difference.