mHealth: Changing Doctor/Patient Care
Mobile health is big news within the industry at the moment and is changing the way medical professionals, health institutions and pharmaceutical companies operate and exchange information. Mobile technology and social applications are being adopted across the world, and being used in many different ways. In Africa, healthcare is a major issue and finding new ways to provide people with medication, medical information and care is top of the agenda; mobile technology is having a profound impact on doing just that.
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The latest mobile app gaining momentum in Africa is FolUp, a web-based health communication platform that connects doctors and patients remotely. The aim of the app is to facilitate greater communication between doctors and patients, without asking people to travel long distances. It also saves time, allowing doctors to treat more patients quickly and easily.
According to FolUp, the tool also provides patients with a secure platform from which they can actively participate in their health management process through tracking their symptoms, how they feel and how they respond to medication.
“Managing complex diseases is a difficult undertaking for health professionals and patients alike,” says Simon Spurr, Co-Founder and Director of FolUp South Africa. “Clinicians’ time to allocate to patients is often limited which can leave patients feeling isolated. Through improved patient monitoring and doctor feedback, this platform provides an overview of the entire health patient experience and has the ability to increase patients’ control over their diseases, levels of emotional well-being and accelerate patient healing.”
The platform has been described as a ‘web ecosystem’, that allows patients to connect with existing forums, medical apps and software from a number of different devices.
The Rapid Growth Of mHealth
The mobile health (mHealth) market is growing rapidly – it is expected to grow 20 percent per annum over the next five years – and apps like FolUp will play an increasing important role in patient care.
Via online patient dashboards, doctors will have access to information, insights and trends regarding their patients. The information will be collected in a variety of ways, through medical notes, social interactions and self-assessment data, providing doctors with much more information than they have access to at the moment. There is also a trend in ‘medical games’, quizzes and tests, which will give professionals yet more insight.
“Patient feedback is extremely valuable and technology is the best medium to assist doctors in gathering this information to gain deeper insight and improve symptom monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and overall patient care,” says Spurr. “This new type of communication between doctors and patients will also optimise consultations through providing insight into new symptoms, side effects, mood disorders and quality of life issues.”
This new type of platform will also allow patients to anonymously build networks, or ‘circles of care’, to find support and engage with patients who have similar conditions. “With more than 20-million South Africans living with a chronic disease, which account for 70 percent of all deaths, this technology has the potential to fundamentally alter the economics of patient care,” says Spurr, speaking about FolUp. However this level of community engagement is something, which is being utelised by app developers across the world.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”