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Position Paper: mHealth Technologies: Applications to Benefit Older Adults (Discussion Draft)

2011 | Download

Mobile technologies are becoming ubiquitous in the U.S. and the world, changing the way we communicate, conduct commerce, and provide care and services. Certainly some of the most compelling benefits of mobile technologies are in the areas of disease prevention, chronic disease management and improving healthcare delivery. For all the advances that are occurring in mobile health, or mHealth, its full potential for one very large group of beneficiaries—older adults and the persons who support them—is only starting to emerge.

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It is projected that by the year 2014 public and private healthcare providers could save between $1.96 billion and $5.83 billion in healthcare costs worldwide by utilizing mHealth technologies for health monitoring. Reports further indicates that most of these cost savings could be generated by the U.S. and Canadian markets due to those countries’ high healthcare costs, complex healthcare system structures, and potential for deployment of more advanced remote monitoring technologies.

To advance the use of mHealth technologies as a means of improving the health and well-being of older adults while reducing the cost of their care, PHI's Center for Technology and Aging has initiated the mHealth Diffusion Grants Program. This paper identifies issues and opportunities related to technology-enabled mobile applications pertinent to this grant initiative, the focus of which is improving the health and independence of older adults in home, community-based settings, and in long-term care/senior residential settings. These mHealth technologies are used by patients, caregivers, and clinicians to improve self-management of care and enhance communication and information transfer between and among patients and clinicians.

This paper includes an overview of mHealth and mobile technologies that are beneficial to older adults, along with representative samples. The paper further discusses five healthcare areas that are particularly relevant to mHealth applications:

  1. Chronic disease management
  2. Medication adherence
  3. Safety monitoring
  4. Access to health information
  5. Wellness

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