Why is mHealth Important?

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By  Prof. John Orzechowski, MBA
Clinical Asst Professor – Health Informatics / mHealth

Mobile Health (mHealth) continues to reach heightened interest levels and activity across the globe. And, the U.S. healthcare industry has accelerated the mHealth dialogue in just the last few years, including innovations and adoption of various mobile/wireless technologies across the constituent ecosystem.

As the US healthcare industry approaches Electronic Health Record system (EHR/EMR) critical mass and Meaningful Use compliance, attention is being turned toward the “next big thing”. Many believe mHealth will be the “next big thing”—a logical evolution, perhaps a revolution. More importantly, mHealth leverages the digital transformation ignited by Regulatory, Payer and Provider interests only a few-short years ago.

Mobile Health may catalyze the healthcare delivery model from a historical, episodic model into a tangible, patient-centric model. mHealth is being viewed increasingly by many as an important technology metaphor to achieve rich, robust patient engagement; ultimately, achieving a patient-centric paradigm change.

As mHealth expands access, availability and/or delivery like no other technology solution—health outcomes across the entire care continuum can be transformed. mHealth solutions hold the promise to provide new, innovative care access and delivery models that produce better outcomes, with reduced healthcare costs and innovative patient safety practices.

To determine why mHealth is such an important Health Informatics topic today, a working mHealth context is necessary. Given the complexity and multiplicity of industry interests, there are as many definitional permutations as there may be organizations. As an emerging field, however, mHealth may be best defined as the access, provision and/or delivery of healthcare interactions—anywhere, anytime—facilitated by mobile and/or wireless technologies. I like this framework!

The UIC Health Informatics program introduced the first Mobile Health course within the Masters curriculum this past academic year. The mHealth course is a dynamic, thought provocative study directed to future healthcare thought leaders. The course examines mobile health from a strategic perspective—transformational “megatrends” from an episodic, provider-centric metaphor toward a patient-consumer centric model. In light of those trends, the course examines the mHealth ecosystem and complexities between constituent stakeholders.

Technologies, systems and solutions are studied. Applications are reviewed with other strategic contexts throughout the course—their value propositions are examined critically. Of course, no healthcare IT discussion would be complete without Security and Compliance topics.

For many UIC student-working professionals, mHealth is a relevant and current topic in the workplace. The UIC Health Informatics mHealth course prepares aspiring healthcare professionals with new perspectives applicable immediately to their professional lives and leadership growth today.