How Mobile Technology is Changing the Healthcare System

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gabriele Montipó, a second-year medical student at the Universidade
Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, in Francisco Beltrão, Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In the 17th century, there was a technological revolution in the medical field when the microscope was perfected to the point of allowing the discovery of the cell. Since then, new technological advances have emerged, and among them is the mobile technology, which is expanding rapidly and impacting all of the healthcare network across the globe.

The definition of mobile technology consists of portable two-way communications devices and the networking technology that connects them. When applied to medicine, it can be referred to as m-health (mobile health), providing a series of benefits. Through it, health professionals are able to carry out telediagnosis, teleconsultations and teleinterconsultations. Patients in cities without assistance can have access to specialist doctors and highly specific tests, and the professional can view a patient’s exams from anywhere, extending service to underserved areas. This technology is able to improve chronic disease management, empower the elderly, remind patients to take medication at the proper time and upgrade the medical system efficiency. Therefore, m-health allows cost savings for clinics and hospitals, saves time and benefits both professionals in the field as well as patients.

In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this tool has been very useful to help reduce the risk of transmission and contamination. It can decrease unnecessary travels for medical consultations and limit the number of individuals grouping in waiting rooms, as it makes possible to detect and guide suspected patients through a video or phone call, apart from allowing follow-up of mild confirmed cases from home. Also, the provision of mental health support through telehealth can help patients maintain psychological well-being, as the isolation degrades normal social support systems.

However, the m-health is a way to complement, not replace, the face-to-face medical treatment. Also, it presents some big obstacles concerning privacy and data security, due to the possibility of confidential patient data being lost or accessed without permission. Besides, some people just don’t feel comfortable with this new technology yet. Therefore, the conservative nature of the healthcare sector demands that change occurs slowly. Still, even though it needs an increased infrastructure, this helpful tool offers great potential improvements to the healthcare system.

References

Antunes, J. L. (2009). Medicina e tecnologia. Janus.

West, D. (2012). How mobile devices are transforming healthcare. Issues in technology innovation, 18(1), 1-11.

About the author

Gabriele Montipó is a second-year medical student at the Universidade
Estadual do Oeste do Paraná, in Francisco Beltrão, Brazil. She is a member of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA) and Local Director of the Standing Committee On Medical Education (SCOME). She has big hopes for the future, as to become a surgeon and one day be part of the Doctors Without Borders movement, helping to give medical care to those that most need it.

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