We often hear that we spend too much time on our phones and other mobile devices. Technology improves and takes on new uses constantly, giving us access to information that is literally at our fingertips. This ever-growing speed and ownership of smartphones can be used for good, making healthcare more available and easy. Mobile healthcare offers new options to provide care and offers quicker diagnosis and education.

Through the use of mobile phones and other wireless devices like e-readers, iPads, and tablets, more and more people have access to the internet and other connections from anywhere they are. Here are five ways mobile healthcare – health support and information via the use of mobile phone or other devices – is helping people to help themselves.

Text Messages Keep You Connected

From appointment confirmations to reminders to take medications, automated text messages keep patients on track. For parents struggling to remember various appointments for themselves and their children, receiving a text message asking them to confirm or cancel with one typed word is helpful and couldn’t be simpler. Medication reminders can help the elderly stay on top of taking their daily medications on time, and even alert them if they have not confirmed upon taking them.

Apps to Answer Questions & Track Activities

There are numerous new apps being developed all the time. Many apps are free to download and use on a variety of mobile devices. Apps like Babylon, Mayo Clinic, and WebMD allow users to be proactive for their own health by learning how to treat basic discomforts like indigestion or a mild rash. They also encourage users to know when to check in with their doctor for more detailed diagnosis and treatment.

Other apps help patients track patterns and symptoms of illness, journal feelings, store heart rate or glucose monitoring, or time activity and exercise efforts. Some apps are educational or trivia games for children or adults.

Mobile Therapy Services

Increasing numbers of counselors, therapists, psychologists, and others are offering appointments through video or chats on apps like Skype or even Facebook Messenger. For areas where it is difficult to access these services, this reduces costs while making therapists easier to get in touch with.

Like other medical apps, mental health apps can help patients track symptoms or medication side-effects. Others offer search features to learn about common medications or to find a new provider.

Coordinating Care

Larger medical systems are using mobile-friendly websites and apps, as well as email, to coordinate care and appointments. These sites also provide a secure portal for providers to share records throughout the entire hospital system, from Emergency Room to primary care to various specialists. Patients are able to see all of their upcoming appointments, fill out intake paperwork, dispute a bill, and more – all from the comfort of their phone or tablet.

The newest technology is even using smartphones as diagnostic tools. The test results are transmitted through secure wifi connections from the patient’s phone directly into the system making the results available quickly to all necessary providers of care.

Keeping Up With Insurance

Insurance companies are also joining the app game, providing easy access to billing and payment and personalized health advice and tracking. This can include reminders when the patient is due for annual exams or diagnostic follow up testing. Many of these apps also provide a quick and easy way to contact customer service, including pre-authorizations for services.

Safeguards for privacy and trustworthiness of some apps and features continue to be evaluated and developed. More and more healthcare providers are supportive of this new technology. It can reduce the costs of care, save time, and encourages patients to take ownership over their health needs.

Ownership of a smartphone, e-reader, tablet, or other mobile device has become standard. Making health information and education available to more people means healthier communities. Mobile technology allows more people to access more information from anywhere they are, so it only makes good sense to use it for healthcare as well.

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