SXSW 2013: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution

Fitness+AppMobile has come to healthcare, and in a big way. From digital healthcare products that created a buzz at CES in January to innovative new fitness apps on display at SXSW this week, it’s clear to see that mobile technology will change the way we manage our health. But it also has the potential to revolutionize healthcare globally.

mHealth apps have the potential to improve patients’ quality of life while at the same time reducing healthcare costs. Remote monitoring of patients will reduce the need for face-to-face consultations, saving patients time and money. Electronic health records (EHRs) save on administrative costs for practices and hospitals. Mobile technology can also help save lives in situations where typically nothing can be done. For instance, a mobile heart monitor allowed a doctor to diagnose heart conditions in passengers in-flight on two separate occasions over the past two years– In one case, he diagnosed the passenger as having a heart attack, which led to the pilot making an emergency landing so the passenger could receive treatment.

While a lot of mHealth focuses on such advanced apps and technologies, simple SMS messages can have a great impact on healthcare as well. SMS appointment reminders can reduce the incidence of missed appointments, while text reminders can increase compliance for patients undergoing treatment for chronic conditions.

TxtAlert, an open source project developed by Praekelt Foundation, has exclusively been used for over two years to send antiretroviral treatment reminders to patients in South Africa. According to a report from GSMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the success has been resounding with missed appointment rates declining from 27% to 4%. Additionally, SIMpill, a medication management system that detects noncompliance with medication regimens, uses SMS reminders. Results showed 94% compliance in a tuberculosis trial and a 92% cure rate.

Increased compliance and cure rates coupled with lower costs and less hassle for patients is a perfect recipe for patients and healthcare providers alike to adopt mobile solutions in healthcare. This mobile healthcare revolution has the potential to lead to a much higher quality of life for people the world over.

Check out OCHWW’s other SXSW 2013 blog posts:

SXSW 2013: Small Data in a World of Big Data

SXSW 2013: How Zombies Are Helping Us Get Fit

SXSW 2013: BIG Data and Personal Technology at SXSW

SXSW 2013: Bad Behavior – the Saga of SXSW

SXSW 2013: Empty Information Calories

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