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Will Mobile Health Reinvent Health Care? New Book Weighs In

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By Karen Guin

Billions of people worldwide now use mobile devices - and the health care industry is taking notice.

Providers, patients and insurers are teaming up with innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new mobile technologies that deliver virtual health care anytime and anyplace. This emerging mode of health care delivery is known as Mobile Health or mHealth.

mHealth has the potential to reinvent health care, according to Donna Malvey, associate professor of health management and informatics at UCF.

"From service delivery to patient care to reimbursement systems to global outsourcing of clinical and financial services, all will be impacted," she said.

Malvey is one to know, having just completed a new book, mHealth: Transforming Healthcare, published by Springer. The book is based on extensive research by her and co-author Donna Slovensky at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

In mHealth, Malvey and Slovensky report on advancements and trends in mobile health technologies. They also offer insight on how the technologies are revising and reshaping health care delivery systems in the United States and globally.

"mHealth will greatly simplify things for the consumer," Malvey shared. "It will change the way consumers search for health information and communicate with providers and insurers. It is believed to be essential to reducing health care costs, while enhancing access to care and improving health quality and outcomes."

Shifts in relationships among doctors and patients are already under way. For example, doctors who normally see high-risk diabetic patients a few hours a year can use mHealth to provide more frequent care through virtual office visits and remote monitoring.

Malvey and her co-author also explore issues associated with health technologies. Industry regulations and information privacy and security issues may discourage or at least slow down mHealth innovation, according to the authors.

"Even though mHealth promises to simplify processes and reduce costs, there are no proven business models and there is a dearth of research and evidence," Malvey said. "We don't know if consumers want mHealth technologies or if it is only vendor hype."

Malvey and Slovensky's new book explains what is necessary for long-term viability of mHealth as a health care delivery medium.

Market factors such as the availability of inexpensive technology, partnership opportunities across industry segments and the growing interest of investors in digital health technologies create a supportive environment for advancement of mHealth products, Malvey explained.

"Ultimately, the success of mHealth will depend on its acceptance and use by consumers and its ability to reduce health care costs and lead to improved health outcomes," she said.

mHealth: Transforming Healthcare is available online at
http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4899-7457-0.

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