Remember when the internet was new and an acceptable website was the equivalent of an electronic pamphlet?
Well, people have fallen in to the same trap with mobile health.
sent text messages ≠ better health outcomes
I shared with you my excitement about mobile health in last Tuesday’s post. You got to hear firsthand from a clinician entrepreneur about her journey creating EndoGoddess, a health app that concentrates on getting people to check their blood sugar.
Today I want to share with you 4 tips from Michael Tapella (via Scienticia Advisors Blog) on how to apply incredibly useful criteria to mobile health because I want you to focus only on products that change health outcomes.
The UN Foundation/mHealth Alliance and West Wireless Health Institute define mobile health broadly as the delivery of health care services using mobile communication devices such as cell phones. These applications can range from targeted text messages to promote healthy behavior all the way to wide-scale alerts about disease outbreaks.
Their definition is a good place to start but we can go further.
Apply Michael Tapella’s criteria (my order) to mHealth products that fit in the definition above.
1. Should have a health-specificity
2. Should enable patient mobility and have some level of connectivity
3. Are consumer-centric and not just mobile versions of diagnostic services (professional point of care) (except for emerging markets)
4. Should involve a record or measurement of some kind
In addition to providing a way to further identify what is inside and out of the mHealth market–these criteria are consumer/patient centered. When you apply them to the previous broad definition it helps to point us in the direction of products that have increased medical value especially in primary care.
Drive a funnel toward outcomes using the 4 criteria
1. Have a health-specificity
This point makes an IRS like specification. If you work from home you can’t deduct your whole house—just your home office. Likewise–this is saying your smartphone is not the mHealth device–it’s the application on your iPhone or Android whose primary purpose is health based that is considered an mHealth product.
2. Enable patient mobility and have some level of connectivity
Tapella defines mobility in mHealth as the ability to move freely within an undefined space while still maintaining (internet) connectivity… as opposed to the ability to move freely in a defined space like your house. He also stipulates that for a communication to be considered mHealth, data must be shared, stored, accessed, or modified. This means that telehealth and unconnected mobile consumer devices become excluded from the mHelath category. For example, Philips makes a product called Telestation. This is a remote monitoring stationary device that is placed in a patient’s home to monitor things like blood pressure, blood sugar and comes with a scale to manage weight. It sends the data from each person’s home to a data hub. The patient can use the device and send the data from wherever they want to in the house but the device is not meant to travel outside of the home. So even though the device is connected it isn’t mobile and therefore should be considered telehealth instead of mHealth.
3. Are consumer-centric and not professional point of care (except for emerging markets)
This point filters products like defibrillators in malls and portable ultrasound machines. These devices are mobile but would normally be in a facility. Tapella made the caveat about emerging markets because much of what mobile health means in countries such as Uganda and Haiti is about making point of care products (which often are diagnostic in nature)– mobile.
4. Involve a record or measurement of some kind
mHealth devices or products need to generate a longitudinal record. Otherwise you are just collecting random data points and not seeing if anything gets better or worse.
What do you think? Do you have any other criteria for mhealth? Share in the comments and let us know!