Mobile health technologies should focus on real-time monitoring
PHILADELPHIA — Clinical practice and research are changing dramatically from the era of observational care to a new era of technology, according to a speaker here.
Currently, most health care providers are using electronic medical records to generate information for hospitals and other providers to streamline patient care and optimize health care.
“That is the most used mobile health technology right now,” Claudio N. Soares, MD, PhD, FRCPC, professor and head of psychiatry at Queen’s University School of Medicine in Ontario, Canada, said during his presentation. “There is also the idea of delivering and managing health care information through mobile technologies, whether you’re using text messages for reminders through your clinic or sending reminders to patients with diabetes to use their insulin or take their medications.”
However, in Soares’ own research on depression, he said, unsophisticated technologies are being used to define different biomarkers for depression.
“We’re asking patients to remember how they’ve felt over 4-week time periods,” he said. “We’re using unsophisticated ways and wasting a lot of opportunities to measure in real time what is happening to our patients. We’ve become interested in instead of using, or in addition to using, observation for our patients, integrating mobile health into research.”
According to Soares, in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, there are numerous mobile health applications to help monitor gestational weight gain, high-risk pregnancies and hot flashes, but research for some important features of menopause has been sparse.
However, use of smartphones may be key in helping health care providers gather real-time information on their patients.
“The idea behind it is that each of us is leaving behind a footprint of what our health status is through digital forms,” Soares said. “If we capture the data, we’ll not only have a picture of that footprint, but we can also track behavioral changes in the environment with very minimal interference. We could collect both active and passive data.”
Soares said one challenge in gathering real-time data is the overabundance of mobile applications: more than 1,500 for depression alone with only 5.3% endorsed by academic research centers or researchers of depression.
“In part, it is our fault because we haven’t been engaged as academics into the research and development and validation of those applications,” he said. “Because of the numbers, we have become engaged in trying to correct that.”
According to Soares, clinicians and researchers must become more involved in using new technologies.
“The future is now. It is not a question or whether or when technology will come into clinical practice,” he said. – by Amber Cox
Soares CN. Mobile health technologies in clinical care and research. Presented at: Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society; Oct. 11-14, 2017; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Soares reports he is a consultant and on the advisory board for Otsuka-Lundbeck and Pfizer Inc. and receives grant/research support from the Ontario Brain Institute and Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.