mHealth provides a new way for people to improve their healthcare through apps that can track your health statistics and help manage dieseases

By James Johnson and Dat Huynh, Row 1

mHealth, or mobile health, is a term used to define technology's use "in applications on phones or other mobile devices that can monitor individuals’ health, track different health signals or motivate someone to manage their health", says Kenyon Crowley, the deputy director of the University of Maryland's business school. This technology can be used to prevent behavioral based illnesses, by using smartphone's sensors to track activity levels as well as intervene on harmful behaviors.

These apps can making communicating with your doctor easier and reduce the amount of doctor visits as well as cutting down on emergency room visits.

Crowley says that the "most chronic diseases have a strong behavioral component" and can be prevented with motivation and support. She believes that this is where mHealth comes into play. Data collected on user's phones can be directly sent to doctors and hospitals to be evaluated without having to be sent to a specialist to review the data. Activity levels on calculated on smartphones can be viewed simply enough to allow users to manage their illnesses on their own. The data can be evaluated to accurately predict diseases that may arise and potentially prevent things from getting worse.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in conjunction with the S Health application provides a variety of different statistics about your own health. The application has the standard things that most other health applications have. However, the Galaxy Note 4 goes farther by including a heart rate monitor that can track our heart rate as well as your blood oxygen saturation levels.

Implementation of these types of apps have proven to be effective in some cases.

Caroline Free conducted an experiment to test the effectiveness of mHealth with HIV-positive patients in Kenya, as well as smokers and diabetic United Kingdom citizens. She used alert intervention to send user's encouraging and motivational or preventative messages. Free says that this type of technology "can be used to deliver health messages to people anywhere and at the most relevant times."

Researchers found that this type of intervention in HIV victims "significantly reduced the patients’ viral load but did not significantly reduce mortality." In other high-quality UK trials, using a text message intervention to influence smokers to quit "more than doubled biochemically verified smoking cessation." One other lower-quality trial indicated that using these text message intervention to encourage more physical activity in diabetic users found that the motivational alerts were able to increase diabetic control but had no other significant effect on body weight. With a combined healthy diet as well as physical activity text messaging alerts, it was found to also have no effect on weight, "whereas interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some but not all cases."

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