There’s no understating of just how quickly the healthcare landscape has shifted. Only a few years ago, annual physicals and intermittent check-ups were the default patient routine. However, recent developments in telehealth technology (including wearables, mobile apps, and advanced analytics) have dramatically improved the quality and convenience of personalized healthcare delivery.
Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, these innovations have gained even greater significance, taking centerstage as key components in an expanding ecosystem of mobile health applications.
The emerging field of mobile health technology is focused primarily on enabling providers to continue a high degree of patient care, even when operating remotely. Not only does this unlock convenience, as people are increasingly accustomed to doing everything on their smartphones, but mobile medicine applications also allow for more granular insights into a patient’s well-being, monitoring behavior and symptoms around-the-clock.
For clinical researchers, these in-depth data collection capabilities make mobile health technology especially well-suited for studying patient outcomes. Among the most promising avenues for research include the following mobile health applications.
1. Glucose Monitors
One of the biggest benefits of mobile health monitoring is the ability to create positive feedback loops in patient behavior. A great example is glucose monitoring, which leverages a variety of sensors to help diabetic patients better keep track of their blood sugar levels. Having a clear and transparent view into daily habits — meals, exercise, and sleep levels, to name a few — gives individuals with diabetes an unbiased understanding of where they may need to improve, reinforcing their resolve to eliminate unhealthy behaviors.
An area that may be of particular interest for clinical researchers is insulin dose tracking, which allows individuals with diabetes to track insulin injections with a wireless, Bluetooth-enabled device. For example, in conjunction with clinical research partners, illumisoft created the Insulin Dose Tracking App (IDTA), now available on the App Store.
A small reusable sensor, contained in a device, known as Mallya, and manufactured by a company called BIOCORP, sits on top of the user’s insulin pen. The device uses Bluetooth to pair with the individual’s mobile device, then automatically captures and records injection data, guiding patients through the entire process with a variety of audio and visual signals.
Although the Mallya device is not yet approved for commercial use in the U.S., the IDTA app provides clinical researchers with a polished platform for storing and tracking diabetic data — from injection timestamps, to dosage, to the type of insulin itself. Thanks to applications like IDTA, our understanding of diabetes and its impacts will continue to advance through the power of mobile health applications and advanced analytics.
2. Chronic Disease Management Devices
Another area where mobile health applications have offered significant advancements is within the field of chronic disease management. This segment of remote healthcare focuses on lifelong, chronic diseases, tracking long-term trends by measuring metrics like sleep, mood/energy, blood pressure, temperature, medication adherence, and weight. These capabilities are especially important as in many cases chronic disease deaths are fairly preventable with proper counseling, medication adherence, and risk factor modification.
Although these actions can be difficult to effectively execute in a traditional healthcare setting, mobile health technologies offer a more economically viable delivery mechanism, allowing healthcare professionals to implement preventative measures the moment they’re needed.
Recognizing the potential for combating chronic diseases in adolescents, Children’s Mercy Hospital partnered with illumisoft to build an app to help children manage their chronic disease symptoms as they transition into adulthood. Not only will this help researchers develop a deeper understanding of how these diseases progress over time. The app also provides aging adolescents with a lifeline for support, bridging gaps in care during this challenging period.
Available exclusively to patients involved in the hospital’s clinical studies, the MyCare app underscores an important aspect of mobile health solutions — they don’t all need to be available to the general public right away. By creating a customized solution and iterating through new features, the Children’s Mercy staff can focus on improving outcomes within their community, allowing them to build a better understanding of patient behaviors before bringing the app to broader audiences.
3. Cardiac and Pulmonary Care Products
For obvious reasons, closely monitoring patients with heart conditions is vital, as every bit of information could be of life-or-death consequence. However, organized access to this data can also help providers uncover deeper insights that will enable them to advance their practices, ultimately increasing the overall quality of care for their most at-risk patients.
There are several systems on the market that allow patients to independently monitor their cardiac and pulmonary patterns, making research and patient care far easier to conduct. The Verily Smart Watch is one such device, emerging from the life science research division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Having received 510(k) clearance from the FDA, the Verily Smart Watch has been widely used in clinical studies by a variety of firms as a tool for capturing on-demand electrocardiogram (ECG) data.
The watch is integrated with built-in biometric, environmental, and movement sensors, allowing it to provide a holistic picture of how patients adapt and change to the conditions around them. By recording, storing, and transferring patient ECG rhythms, researchers can not only advance population-based understanding of cardiac medicine— they can also more precisely advise patients on personalized healthcare approaches.
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, but most serious hospitalizations are predictable and preventable. By advancing the study and understanding of how patient ECG patterns transform over time, devices like the Verily Smart Watch will provide clinical researchers with a powerful new tool for fighting the full spectrum of cardiovascular conditions.
Customized Mobile Health Applications
The exponential growth of mobile health technologies has unleashed a wave of innovation in the field of clinical research, enabling patients and providers to connect like never before. By leveraging the capabilities of a customized mobile platform, researchers can build powerful networks of patients and participants, scaling their reach like never before and improving the outcomes of their studies.
A mobile-first approach to research offers numerous benefits from simplified monitoring of patient vitals to increased accessibility and patient engagement. This also makes the process of collecting and analyzing crucial data easier for researchers. In short, mobile health applications have the potential to improve every area of the clinical research experience.
With that said, mobile app development is a challenging undertaking with healthcare app development even more so. It’s of critical importance to have an experienced technology partner with a track record of success in this industry. illumisoft can be that partner.
At illumisoft, we’ll serve as a guide throughout the app development process, advising you on where you should go, and why you should and shouldn’t attempt certain strategies. If you’re ready to put together a strategy for taking on the world of mobile health, reach out to us at illumisoft to begin building a technology plan for the future.