Mobile health (mHealth) refers to mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, that are used alongside software applications to support healthcare services. The objective of online medical services is to allow patients to rely on the advice of a health professional and to promote continuous communication. Telemedicine optimises preventive medicine that focuses on health tracking and the early detection of chronic diseases.
Telemedicine promotes and guarantees remote medical care through electronic platforms that allow disease detection and patient monitoring. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers software functions to be medical devices when built-in features on a smartphone, such as cameras and accelerometers, are used to perform a specific medical function. Additionally, some accessories or external sensors can be added to obtain data to be processed by the software.
The types and uses of health apps are very varied. The vast majority of these apps are dedicated to the areas of well-being, diet and exercise, but there is a growing interest in the use of mobile applications for the management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15% of US adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), which consists of the progressive and irreversible deterioration of renal function.
An innovative smartphone-based test, which was developed by Healthy.io and recently approved by the FDA, promises the early detection of CKD. It involves the use of the smartphone’s camera to collect data when patients take a urine test to identify albumin, a leading indicator for CKD. The test is conducted in the comfort of the patient’s home and provides immediate results that are shared with health professionals.
In this era of new technologies, information and forms of communication, telemedicine has brought many benefits to the healthcare system due to its immediacy and the fact that it can attend to a large number of patients in less time than the traditional system. As an industry, the field of mHealth has experienced exponential growth in recent years due to its widespread use in developing countries and increasingly accessible mobile technology. mHealth focuses on getting information immediately to detect diseases, track diseases and provide timely information.
Although the implementation of mHealth platforms has historically been slow and limited in scope, the number of health apps available on the market is increasing and their use is a growing part of daily life. mHealth can be used to promote patient well-being, clinical decision-making, and care management in hospitals and homes.