A new era of mobile medical technologies

The rapid development of a number of new technologies has a huge impact on the areas of healthcare. One of these technologies is mobile health systems (mHealth). There are various definitions of mHealth. For example, mHealth has been defined as “mobile data processing, medical sensor and communication technologies for healthcare”. The Global Observatory on E-Health of the World Health Organization describes mHealth as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital devices and other wireless devices”. However, these mHealth definitions are not yet widely accepted. Alternatively, mHealth can mean the use of mobile devices to monitor or detect biological changes in the human body, while device management units, such as hospitals, clinics or service providers, collect data and use it to improve health care and health.

In Korea, mHealth has been accepted in various healthcare settings, such as hospitals and clinics since 1990. It is now widely used in healthcare or healthcare; however, it is still at an early stage of development. In the United States, 58% of hospitals have optimized mobile patient portals, and 47% of hospitals want to constantly expand related health technologies. It is a good solution and a tool for collecting and providing various information about a patient’s health condition. An exemplary advantage of mHealth is that it is able to increase the continuity of care by better storing medical records of patients. They are also able to reduce the direct and indirect costs of health care by reducing the need for visits to a health care or hospitalization clinic.

In terms of mHealth, there is the international conference “mHealth Summit”, which was renamed the “Connected Health Conference” in 2015. Annual conferences on Health show that mHealth is important in modern healthcare settings and industries. During the meetings various ideas, new technologies and some case studies results are presented, which will be included in the demonstration workshops for many potential guests and consumers to show off their excellent ideas.

Although mHealth has an increasing market share and positive outlook, it is important to clearly identify and clarify several issues or challenges it poses.

First, it is difficult to distinguish whether devices used in the implementation of mHealth are considered to be medical devices or other equipment for wellness or health products. For programmers and individual users of medical devices, we need to define the differences between medical mHealth systems and other health monitoring systems. It would be great to see a new definition of mHealth that takes these differences into account.

Second, mHealth requires robust, evidence-based m-health results. It is necessary to examine the impact of mHealth on improving health and healthcare through empirical data using robust research methods. The findings will help in the implementation of new technologies dispersed in the healthcare industry. Although many studies have shown that mHealth contributes to improving health care for non-communicable diseases, there are few quantitative studies in scientific journals due to the lack of robust data demonstrating their effectiveness.

Thirdly, it may be necessary for every nation to consider securing insurance or financing the use of systems if any significant health outcomes occur. This would improve the quality of health care.

Fourthly, each nation must work together to set international standards for m-health harmonization that reflect its local situation and to follow good technological standards to be incorporated into government policies and regulations.

Fifth, we need international cooperation in sharing research and knowledge. These efforts would bring savings and improve the quality of healthcare. Finally, there are other issues that we need to address or confront in relation to mHealth, such as privacy and data security.

When these improvements are realized, mHealth will become a more useful tool for better healthcare. Frequent use of mHealth would also help to strengthen the medical devices industry for healthcare.