The technologies associated with health informatics are varied. From electronic health records to apps that connect doctor and patient, the goal is to make people healthier while saving money and time. There is quite a bit of “back-end technology” being used in health systems that patients don’t get to see or use, like data collection software and technology inside hospitals that allows data to be transferred from one area to another. But one of the first places that patients go to actively become involved in health informatics is their smartphones. There are many apps being used by doctors and their patients, and studies are beginning to show that patients like being more involved in their own health.
It must be stated that not all health-related apps are equal. Some work very well and others do not. Popular apps include one that reminds you when to drink water throughout the day, a personalized exercise video player and a heart rate tracker that hooks up to an Apple Watch.
Healthcare Apps and Public Health
Public health experts hope these apps help people pay more attention to their health . But along with apps that help you exercise are apps that involve higher risk, such as those that measure heart rate or blood glucose levels. The risk is that the app could fail and prevent a user from seeking medical help they would otherwise seek out. Apps like these must pass scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration before hitting the market .
Survey Finds That Apps are Popular
A recent survey by Research Now polled 500 healthcare professionals and 1,000 healthcare app users . Nearly half of the healthcare professionals polled said they would be introducing healthcare apps to their practice within five years. 86% of these professionals believe the apps will increase their knowledge of their patients’ conditions.
It seems the app users enjoy the ability to monitor their health while staying active. 96% of users said they believe the apps will improve their quality of life, while 72% of healthcare professionals believe healthcare related apps will encourage patients to take responsibility for their health.
The Positive Impact of Healthcare Apps
Healthcare apps can have a positive effect on the health of users by holding them accountable for their daily actions. When users are required to enter information into an app on a daily basis it can keep them more aware of what they are putting into their bodies. It can also help diabetics stay on top of their insulin regimens. Since most people have their phone in their pocket or purse, it means their healthcare apps are typically with them.
This study seems to indicate potential for healthcare quality improvement for those using healthcare apps. People with chronic diseases could possibly benefit most from apps like these. In the survey, 76% of healthcare professionals believe these apps will help those with diseases like diabetes or heart disease .
Students getting a master’s degree in health informatics will learn how technology can help increase patient safety and ensure a higher quality of care. Although patients are still in the early stages of realizing how health informatics applies to them, those using healthcare related apps seem to see the benefits from combining technology and clinical care. Many doctors are on board with these new apps and we can expect to see a rise in their use in the years to follow.