EPF promotes patients interests in mHealth

Mobile health or ’mHealth’ is a component of eHealth. EPF contributed to the seminar “mHealth – making a positive difference to End Users” at the Mobile World Congress on 28 February in Barcelona, Spain. This was an opportunity for us to share some of EPF positions developed through our global eHealth-related work and most recently through the Chain of Trust project.

To date, no standardised definition of mHealth has been established. The Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) defined mHealth as “medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices”.

For participants that were not familiar with our work, some of our messages made them consider things with different eyes. This relates particularly to their understanding of the importance of certain elements to meet patients’ needs. Amongst others:

  • There is a lack of knowledge as well as a poor use by patients of mHealth applications. They are even not always aware of the benefits this inovative type of services can bring to them.
  • It is important to use people and their needs as a starting point instead of technology to match the needs of the final users
  • User-friendly applications ('apps') are even more important for chronic patients and the usability needs to be assessed on an ongoing basis
  • This new type of communication and interaction through mHealth requires to build skills to understand the new roles and responsabilities it implies 
  • mHealth needs to be effectively integrated in the delivery of healthcare as it complements conventional healthcare and should be used to support and optimise the delivery of healthcare
  • To define a legal framework (certification, data protection, liability, license and reimbursement issues) is an essential pre-condition for large scale deployment of mHealth. This was raised in the High Level eHealth Task Force Report 'Redesigning Health in Europe for 2020' 
  • To maintain a ‘human dimension’ is crucial for patients’ trust in healthcare delivery supported by ICT
  • Patients must be involved from the onset as they have unique experience and expertise in using these services

”mHealth can contribute to empower patients in an healthcare environment that is leading towards an increased active role of patients in self-management and co-management with their health professionals”, concluded Liuska Sanna, EPF programme manager.

EPF will therefore continue to feed a patient perspective into mHealth developments with a view to ensuring that patients’ views are taken on board.