mHealth Applications: The Process behind the Process

When you think mHealth, you might immediately think of health care applications on your iPhone or an EMR on your tablet. But the process that led to that app to making it to your mobile device is a long and tedious one.

As mentioned in a previous post, the mHealth Summit is about bringing together many sectors of the health care and technology industries in order to enact change and deliver better health care using ubiquitous devices such as smartphones and tablets. When you think mHealth, you might immediately think of health care applications on your iPhone or an EMR on your tablet. But the process that led to that app to making it to your mobile device is a long and tedious one.

Paul Campbell, Senior Advisor to Amplify Public Affairs, was able to shine some light on this arduous process and spoke about the types of questions innovators must address. Campbell used his ten minutes at the podium to convey just how overwhelming it can be to undertake. Here are some of the specific questions Campbell mentioned:

When communicating an mHealth app’s value proposition, it’s important to establish value. Who will get the value from this product and why is the value created? Is the app/product for those with acute conditions? Chronic conditions? Or is for general health maintenance?

What is the clinical benefit of the application? Just as important, what is the economical benefit of using this application? After all, if the delivery of health care is improved but is not economically sound, it will be very difficult to find success. Who will pay for the application? The health care provider? The patient? A combination of both parties?

Once a creator has established the foundation above, the focus then shifts to “When?” — as in, when will this app be used? Will there be variable use or is it something that will be used just once?

The questions went on and on, and Campbell made it clear that with more answers come even more questions. These are the fundamental questions that must be addressed and ironed out in order to move forward. Then there’s a whole new set of issues, such as the interface of the application, interoperability, and so on.

It is no easy task to come up with an mHealth application that will improve delivery of care in a cost-effective way. And, even if an individual or team does manage to map out all the details, that is only the very beginning. After the groundwork has been laid, that is when the real fun begins. Just ask Bella Hwang.