Digital Health Explained

mHealth

2 September 2021

You probably can’t live without your mobile phone – but can it help you to live better?

mHealth is an area of technology could support you to become happier and healthier. It is an area of digital health that covers delivery of health services and information via mobile technology. Scholars are still arguing over the official definition, with many citing that it covers any tech that can be easily carried, like wearables, portable cameras and sensors,  and mobile device applications, creatively called ‘apps’. These apps can be any type of computer program, but usually we think of apps as software for a smartphones and tablets.

You are probably aware of games, weather, and shopping apps on your own phone – who doesn’t love a bit of procrastination on the commute to work… but apps cover many uses than you can use to benefit your health. 

For general healthcare, aside from online consultations with a doctor through an app service such as LIVI, you can use software such as the NHS App to manage your repeat prescriptions, securely access your health record and most recently obtain your Covid Pass. 

Other apps – and there are hundreds of thousands available on Google Play and Apple Store – can help you manage your lifestyle and understand long-term conditions such as Diabetes, lymphoedema and childhood Asthma.

There are even apps that involve mental health care – connecting those who need help, with compatible services not only for crisis care and suicide prevention but also to deliver therapy and longer-term care, which provide out of hours care and support for those who may not engage in traditional care and can reduce the no-show rate appointments.

Not only has the NHS embraced mobile care by commissioning their own app but has also created a library of apps that it has accredited for safe use. This is where we take our rose-tinted glasses off… if the NHS only recommends 50 apps, what about the rest?

Independent research has highlighted that 85% of apps available specifically for health uses fall below “quality thresholds”, some with worrying potential consequences for users such as poor management of health conditions, following bogus advice and potentially, death.

Your mobile phone can certainly help to enhance your life but knowing which applications to trust could help you live that bit longer.