Comparison between Mobile Computing Technology and In-Patient Visits
First, it is a well-known fact that visiting a doctor’s office or hospital to have the vital signs monitored requires time, money and effort. However, available mobile computing technologies require minimal time, resources and effort, not mentioning that the resulting data may be used immediately by the patient to remedy a medical condition, or may be shared with a physician for treatment (Avancha et al., 2012).
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Additionally, unlike in-patient visits to a doctor’s office or hospital, whereby a patient is required to physically visit the physician for the vital signs to be checked and recorded, mobile computing technology provides the framework for long-term continuous medical monitoring of a patient’s vital signs through “mobile internet devices (MIDs) connected wirelessly to wearable, portable, and even embeddable sensors” (Avancha et al., 2012 p. 3:2). Consequently, it can be argued that mobile computing technologies such as InmHealth are better placed to improve the healthcare quality of patients than in-patient visits.
Lastly, it is conceivable to argue that mobile computing in healthcare allows for faster response time should a patient’s vital signs reveal any complexities. In light of this attribute, using mobile computing technology improves the efficiency of medical monitoring (Avancha et al., 2012). In contrast, in-patient visits are less efficient when it comes to monitoring vital signs as they do not provide any continuous contact between the doctor and the patient to allow for faster response and decision-making in case of an emergency (Siau & Shen, 2006).
Advantages & Disadvantages of using Mobile Computing Technology
In advantages, mobile computing technology has proved very beneficial in terms of efficiency and vital support to patients (Arshad et al, n.d.); hence it is currently on the cusp of major innovations and wide-ranging deployments not only in the United States but also globally (Avancha et al., 2012). Second, mobile computing technology can avail important real-time (instant) health information to patients and their doctors, hence allowing for faster decision making (Siau & Shen, 2006). Another advantage is that most of the mobile computing devices can immediately analyze the recorded health information for constant improvement and research (Interactive Research & Development, 2012). Other advantages of mobile computing technology include the capacity to enhance the quality of healthcare, capacity to enable patients to manage their health with much ease, and the capacity to minimize the cost of care by allowing patients to spend less time in health institutions or initiate fewer visits to their physician (Avancha et al., 2012).
Among the disadvantages, available literature shows that although mobile computing “systems may indeed improve quality of healthcare and quality of life, they also generate new security and privacy issues” (Avancha et al., 2012 p. 3:2). Additionally, many patients may be unable to have the devices due to their high initial costs (Siau & Shen, 2006).
Extant literature demonstrates that security, which is distinctively different from privacy, “refers to physical, technological, or administrative safeguards or tools used to protect identifiable health data from unwarranted access or disclosure” (Avancha et al., 2012 p. 3:3). As such, there exist obvious security concerns for patients using mobile computing devices to transmit personal medical information over wireless networks largely because important information is shared between the patients and their doctors. In the absence of clear guidelines and policies governing the use and protection of this information, patients may be unable to protect their identifiable health information from unwarranted access or disclosure to third parties (Siau & Shen, 2006). To address the security concerns, therefore, the patient-doctor relationship needs to be guided by clear guidelines, rules, and policies regarding the access or disclosure of patients’ health information to other parties, especially because many mobile computing devices collect patients’ health information continuously over extended periods (Avancha et al., 2012).
Social Networking for Group Support
Today, owing to advances in information and communication technologies, social networking is increasingly been used by practitioners and care providers to avail group support for patients with similar medical concerns (Siau & Shen, 2006). Social networking, according to these authors, is not only a cost-effective way of reaching out to patients with similar medical concerns but can also be used to provide a framework through which patients learn from each other and empower each other on the best practices that could be used to manage their medical conditions. Social networking also provides doctors and care providers with a wider patient reach and an easy way through which to disseminate important health information to the patients (Ahmed et al., 2010).
It is acknowledged in the literature that “seeking health information on the World Wide Web is the third most common use of the Internet, with 61% of all American adults searching online for healthcare information” (Ahmed et al., 2010 p. 1877). Consequently, care providers can use the discussion boards contained in various social networking sites such as Facebook and Tweeter to create awareness as well as provide emotional support and health information to patients with similar medical concerns owing to sites’ convenience of access, concerns about confidentiality from face-to-face interactions, and the capability of patients in isolated and remote locations to access the health information with much ease (Ahmed et al., 2010).
Ahmed, O.H., Sullivan, S.J., Schneiders, A.G., & McCrory, P. (2010). iSupport: Do social networking sites have a role to play in concussion awareness? Disability & Rehabilitation, 32(22), 1877-1883.
Arshad, U., Mascolo, C., Mellor, M., & Elan, C. (n.d.). Exploiting mobile computing in healthcare. Web.
Avancha, S., Baxi, A., & Kotz, D. (2012). Privacy in mobile technology for personal healthcare. ACM Computing Surveys, 45(1), 3:1-3:54.
Interactive Research & Development. (2012). mHealth to improve TB care. Web.
Siau, K., & Shen, Z. (2006). Mobile healthcare informatics. Medical Informatics & the Internet in Medicine, 31(2), 89-99.