The Journal of mHealth Vol 1 Issue 1 (Feb 2014) - Page 35

EPHA Briefing on Mobile Health Home monitoring can also greatly improve the lives of the frail and elderly. Sensors connected to home alert systems help prevent incidents, such as falls, turn into lifethreatening events. [21] Smart systems thus provide reassurance that help is only minutes away. Educational and Public Health Use A number of educational tools strive to educate patients and caregivers about the conditions they are dealing with, and they provide relevant information and links to networks where expertise and anxieties can be shared. Other tools build up user skills for navigating common eHealth functions. For health professionals and trainees, there are training modules for specific conditions, purposes (e.g. echocardiographies) and learning objectives (e.g. the extensive ‘Anatomy on the Go’ app [22]), as well as for building up skills for working with vulnerable groups. A number of mHealth solutions, in particular texting via SMS, are more generally useful raising awareness of prevention and health promotion. In the developing world, a number of public health campaigns have been successfully carried out to combat HIV/AIDS infections, outbreaks of communicable diseases and epidemics, and for family planning, allowing recipients to make informed choices and supporting disease management. Promotion of Health and Wellbeing Given its multifunction, mHealth can be a tool for promoting health and well-being. Its extensive range of gadgets is seductive for patientconsumers as it takes health out of the scientific sphere into the realm of day-to-day activities and social ties, thereby allowing individuals to explore both conventional and emerging health methods, e.g. complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Through routine deployment, mHealth can also contribute to better prevention and healthy behaviours. It is, however, imperative to recognise the limitations of technology: data can be erroneous, tools used incorrectly, and results may depend on performing tasks in the right sequence at the right time. Moreover, the negative impacts of excessive ICT use on health outcomes (both physical and psychological) must not be underestimated. Gaming ICT-enabled games are ubiquitous as people pass time with their mobile phones 24/7, e.g. in waiting rooms, on public transport, during lunch break, even in bed. Gamification describes the application of game elements and digital game design techniques to non-game problems such as health. While online marketing and inappropriate information to patients (e.g., by unauthorised vendors of medicines) represent a growing concern, especially for individuals unable to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sources of health information, education-oriented health games are arguably a fun way for individuals to become more conscious of their health. Seen in this way, ICT has the potential to improve quality of life [23], especially since mobile games are played by people of all ages and across social groups. Examples are action games for youth with dyslexia, games offering pain relief via ‘information overload’ (e.g., for patients with permanent pain due to severe burns, etc.), but also Wii sports for people suffering from obesity. [24] There are also interesting solutions for health professionals, e.g. simulations and interactive learning for physicians controlling ‘virtual patients’. It has even been suggested that playing video games can help develop surgeons’ manual dexterity. [25] Cost Reduction vs. Evidence The Boston Consulting Group reported that mHealth can reduce the cost of health services (amongst the old age group) by about 25%, and of data collection by 24%. [26] Patient care can be improved by capturing information for providers and allowing them to rapidly analyse large amounts of information to better understand a perso