Optimizing mHealth Technology to Improve Health Outcomes: A Comparative Case Study
Mobile health, more colloquially known as mHealth, has been evolving in the healthcare space for the past few years - evidenced by the 47,911 mHealth app products currently in the Apple App Store. With a surge in technological advancements comes the promise of better/more personal care for patients. Unfortunately, studies have found that while the potential of mHealth apps improving health outcomes is high, their implementation and execution often fall short. These shortfalls can be attributed to multiple factors including the absence of user input in the development of mHealth apps, fragmentation among the healthcare system, and lack of guiding regulations regarding the efficacy and security of the mHealth technology itself. Fragmentation is driven by the two different types of actors producing mHealth apps: traditional incumbents in the healthcare space such as hospitals and health insurance companies and non-traditional entrants such as technology giants and start ups. While both types of actors strive to improve patient outcomes, they employ divergent approaches when developing mHealth apps. There is currently a gap in the development and acceptance of apps by patients. Optimal benefits cannot be achieved without widespread adaptation. This paper sets out to better understand the most promising potential benefits of mHealth apps and discern barriers to adaptation. Through a comparative case study, I evaluate current mHealth development efforts on behalf of a traditional incumbent, a health system, and a non-traditional entrant, a technology start-up company. Finally I propose solutions on the business and policy level to optimize mHealth technologies to improve health outcomes.
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