Mobile health in the hospital

This story first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

The use of mobile technologies in clinical practice in the acute care sector has seen remarkable growth in the last few years. New and emerging technologies – such as the use of iPads in the operating theatre and Google Glass for surgical education – have the ability to transform medical practice when backed by strong ethico-legal principles and an evidence base.

Mobile technologies are being rapidly adopted in the medical field for a number of reasons. As a clinician, it’s easy to see the enormous potential that mobile technologies have to improve medical practice, especially in the hospital setting.As a medical student, I recall using Palm PDAs to look up details of drugs and rare conditions I’d never heard of, wishing they had internet access to expand their capabilities. Eventually the smartphone came along to fill this void.

Smartphones have a constant connection to the internet, limitless expansion capability through accessories, a convenient form factor, and perhaps most importantly, they are found in the pockets of most doctors.

I became interested in the field of mHealth after noticing that both myself and a number of colleagues were using our mobile devices in the hospital, with seemingly great success. For example, visual acuities were being tested by the bedside using apps which claimed to be as good as a Snellen acuity chart.

As one should do when adopting any new medical device, however, I decided to look up what the available evidence base was for using these mobile technologies. At the time, I was shocked to find the evidence base for using these technologies was quite abysmal. Out of interest, I conducted a study on these visual acuity applications, and unfortunately found there was a huge discrepancy in quality between apps, with numerous wildly inaccurate applications.

Mobile devices, technology and research has always interested me, so I decided to help build the much needed evidence base by launching the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine two years ago. I am happy to report that the evidence base for mHealth is growing at a healthy rate.

To read the full story, click here for the November 2013 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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