With all the mobile apps and resources available for games, entertainment and media, have you ever thought about the impact that mobile apps could have on your health? Introducing mHealth, the term used to describe the use of your mobile phone for health. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released a report entitled “Minorities, Mobile Broadband, and the Management of Chronic Diseases,” which evaluates the vast potential of mobile broadband technologies to help address our nation’s most pressing health concerns.
Currently, chronic diseases disproportionately affect minority communities. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and obesity to name a few. The CDC reports that each year 7 out of 10 Americans die from illnesses related to chronic disease. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths in the US. In 2007, $2.2 trillion was spent on healthcare in the US, with $1.7 trillion spent to prevent and treat chronic illnesses. Eventhough chronic diseases affect minority communities disproportionately, many individuals lack the ability to effectively treat and monitor their health due to geographic, financial, cultural and linguistic barriers. Considering these facts, mHealth is our answer to breaking down these barriers.
People of color lead the way in mobile access, especially with handheld devices. 64% of African Americans and 63% of Latinos are wireless Internet users and more likely to own a cell phone than their white counterparts. A minority patient’s access to a smartphone or tablet and health app can enhance doctor-patient communication and empower patients to make informed healthcare decisions. Some current mobile apps include Mobile MIM, a remote diagnostic imaging tool that doctors can use to evaluate and manage imagining scans. There’s also Vocel’s Pill Phone which allows patients to view information on their medications and Quick MT which helps patients understand medical terminology.
Some of the report’s policy recommendations include:
• Ensure universal access to mobile broadband for households in both unserved and underserved areas.
• Reform regulatory barriers that limit the use of non-traditional medical treatment.
• Create incentives for physicians to use mobile broadband-enabled technologies for current and preventative care.
• Avoid excessive and regressive taxation on wireless goods and services.
For more information, please review the “Minorities, Mobile Broadband and the Management of Chronic Diseases” report: http://www.jointcenter.org/sites/default/files/upload/research/files/Minorities%20Mobile%20Broadband%20and%20the%20Management%20of%20Chronic%20Diseases_0.pdf