Dr Zara Quail MBChB (UCT)
Health News

mHealth: Improving your health with the help of mobile technology

So can you use your mobile phone to improve your own health and that of those around you?

I am attending the mHealth symposium at the eHealth week in Dublin. We have heard about some excellent hospital and home based  mHealth (mobile health) services. But if we are to look at mHealth as a technology to improve health, I feel the main positive influence on the current healthcare sector is to harness the power of a mobile phone in every person's hand as a disruptive technology to change the disease-focused, acute and chronic medical care paradigm. With non-communicable diseases (NCDs) predicted to escalate to levels that will potentially cripple the economic viability of the healthcare system, we need to focus NOW on using the power of mHealth for PREVENTion, to empower people to make the right choices in food, nutrition, activity, and social habits. This has the potential to reduce prevalence of heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, obesity, mental health, dental disease and cancers all of which account for up to 80% of healthcare expenditure in some regions. Knowledge transfer followed by behaviour change strategies need to be implemented as part of health promotion programmes. However, if the environment in which people exist is not conducive to improving their own health, behaviour change is less likely to happen.

mHealth has the power to educate people and patients to drive the re-structuring of healthcare and society's infrastructure to re-focus on the MAINTAINing WELL-BEING through healthy lifestyle choices, which in turn will lower the prevalence of NCDs and their burden on the currently failing "disease care" system. Healthcare and technology providers need to make that mental paradigm shift, AND BE EXAMPLES of HEALTHY LIVING to others for this to succeed.

So how are YOU using your mobile phone to improve your own health and that of those around you?