Cell Phones Invade Healthcare

The popularity of cell phones is the definition of a double-edged sword. They can be source of safety, and can be a source of frustration.

Cell phones are a funny thing and a lot of people have them. At the end of 2006, approximately 69% of the United States population (207.9 million people) owned a cell phone. If you think there are a lot of phones in the US, consider China who broke the 400 million user barrier in February 2007. There are some countries that actually have more cell phones than people. It goes without saying that you probably have a cell phone, as do the majority of your colleagues and friends. The phones are very useful and have many capabilities, depending on how and when they are used. It is possible that they could be best technological invention ever or the crux of civilization as we know it. We use cell phones to take pictures, listen to music, text message, play video games, e-mail and surf the Internet, directions via GPS navigation, and, oh yeah, to make phone calls.

The popularity of cell phones is the definition of a double-edged sword. They can be source of safety, and can be a source of frustration. They can save lives when used wisely, and they can cost lives when used inappropriately. Many people are guilty of letting their cell phone control them instead of vice versa, and this can lead to severe consequences such as car accidents, and small annoyances such as interruptions in meetings, classes, movies, etc.

It’s almost as though cell phones have the power to do anything, and this mindset has spurred entrepreneurial healthcare leaders to ponder if the phones have the power to change the way healthcare is delivered. They’re already being used to remind pediatric patients with chronic conditions takes their meds, and the success of such programs has created a belief that this is just the beginning of using cell phones to improve patient health. A majority of teenagers have incorporated cell phones into their daily life, and many cannot imagine living without them. Although a large percentage of adults own a cell phone, teenagers represent the biggest fan of the technology. What better way is there to deliver healthcare to the most technologically-savvy generation? Because many teenagers seem to have a cell phone permanently attached to their ear or are constantly text messaging, it’s only logical to incorporate the same piece of technology to provide medical alerts when appropriate.

The popularity of cell phones is exactly what makes their potential to deliver quality healthcare limitless. These possibilities are quickly turning into reality, and a healthcare revolution led by the cell phone is on the way. Although the benefits of this exploding field are well-suited to teenagers, the fact is that anyone who owns a cell phone will reap the benefits.

Medical Records Institute (MRI), the TEPR organization, has always suspected that the cell phone would play a large role in delivering healthcare, and took the initiative by launching the Center for Cell Phone Applications in Healthcare (C-PAHC) this year. C-PACH envisions many benefits by incorporating Americans’ love for cell phones with delivering quality healthcare, such as storing personal health information safely and securely on their phone to share it with authorized healthcare professionals when care is needed; allow for quick and easy access to information about medications or symptoms of their health; and have an easier way to communicate with healthcare providers, patients, payers, and pharmacists, facilitate medication reminders for patients, appointment scheduling, emergency calling, and other functions. And this is only the beginning.

As cell phones continue to be incorporated into the daily lives of Americans, healthcare professionals will continue to see the possibilities of using this technology to improve the health of their patients. Write us if you agree or disagree.

Healthcare professionals can learn more at an upcoming C-PAHC conference in Boston, MA, on November 7.