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Can digital health technologies underpin different ways to provide health care, drive better health outcomes and optimize business models?
The last decades, we have experienced the development of substantial technological advances, which could play an important role in the management of health care.
mHealth in the management of obesity: patient’s perspective
Lifestyle mobile health self-monitoring applications appear to improve patient motivation and adherence to treatment in the management of weight disorders. The meta-analysis of Cavero-Redondo included 20 studies (conducted before the pandemic between 2007 and 2019) assessing the effect of lifestyle mobile health applications on weight loss and adherence to behavioral weight management interventions. It was shown that the use of lifestyle mobile applications, especially on the smartphone, results in greater weight loss and adherence to lifestyle programs, compared to usual care. Also following bariatric surgery, health applications can be a useful adjunct to improve and maintain post-operative weight loss. In the study of Mangieri et al., bariatric patients used a mhealth application which featured recording of nutritional intake and physical activity, weight tracking and a social network encouraging support and accountability for 2 years. The use of the mhealth application significantly improved weight loss 1 and 2 year after surgery, compared to the control group.
mHealth interventions can enhance patients’ self-efficacy and empowerment and improve daily life autonomy and adherence to treatment, but also may reduce the workload for health care providers.
Towards a smart health ecosystem?
While the number of smartphone applications for health, fitness and diet has increased exponentially in the last few years, the use of these applications for clinical outcomes is still very limited. And while mobile health technology including telemedicine already lasts at least a decade, it was only one year ago, at the start of the pandemic, that the majority of physicians and health systems were really forced to start to adopt digital health technologies. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half of the primary care visits in the US were via telemedicine (43,5%) in April 2020, compared to only 1% in February 2020. According to a survey of EY, this surge in telemedicine has made patients and physicians more open to virtual care in the future and might accelerate health care organizations’ journey towards smart health ecosystem. Over 80% of physicians plan to accelerate their introduction of new digital technologies and invest in these technologies in the near future. These technologies not only include telemedicine, but also tools as wearables and clinical-grade remote monitoring devices that capture and forward biometric data. While consumers chose health technologies for speed (48%) and convenience (46%), physicians are focused on increasing workflow efficiency (73%) and patient safety (72%). However, in order to further provide a more integrated, smarter health care system, several learnings still lie ahead; including a secure exchange of health information and building capabilities to draw insights from the gathered health data.
At Pro Well, we are proud to offer the Prowell lifestyle application to our patients. The Pro Well lifestyle app enables both nutritional and exercise coaching; tracking of nutritional intake, physical activity, weight and other health parameters, and features a community encouraging support, as well as an option to schedule digital appointments with a Prowell food coach or physical activity coach.
Mangieri et al. 2019. Mobile health applications enhance weight loss efficacy following bariatric surgery. Obes Res Clin Pract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30826256/
Cavero-Redondo et al. 2020. Effect of Behavioral Weight Management Interventions Using Lifestyle mHealth Self-Monitoring on Weight Loss: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7400167/
How COVID-19 has triggered a sprint toward smarter health care: https://www.ey.com/en_gl/health/how-covid-19-has-triggered-a-sprint-toward-smarter-health-care