M 12: Impact of Smartphone Use in Health Care by Providing Smartphones to Patients: A Systematic Review
Student, College of Pharmacy
University of North Texas Health Science Center United States
The objective of this study was to explore the literature regarding patient use of smartphones to improve health outcomes, to explore the idea of health plan purchase of smartphones for patients, and to discuss the costs associated with purchase of smartphones to improve health outcomes.
A systematic review was conducted regarding smartphone use published between 2005-2015 using PubMed, Medline, Cinahl Plus and Cochrane Library. Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool was used to assess risk of bias and Covidence was used to facilitate the summary of selected articles.
Based on the inclusion criteria applied, search yielded a total of 42 articles. All of the articles were RCTs. Studies show that patient use of smartphones is widespread with a projected increase of over 27 million smartphone users in the U.S. Several examples were identified and focused on three key areas: disease and medication management, personal fitness and wellness and remote monitoring. Studies included managing these chronic diseases: diabetes, HIV, hypertension, heart failure, chronic pain, substance abuse and mental health diseases. Smartphones that allowed remote monitoring had the greatest impact on avoidable costs by reducing hospitalization and emergency room visits. The majority of studies (72%) related to disease management showed a positive improvement in clinical outcomes. Smartphones that featured mobile coaching and medication reminders had high patient satisfaction and increased medication adherence. While there were few articles retrieved that directly addressed health plan purchase of smartphones for patients, one of the three articles mentioned health plan deployment of apps in targeted population health programs. For example, Kaiser’s My Health Manager is used by 3 million members. If 10% of those members own a smartphone, that represents 300,000 patients that benefit. While the economic impact can be considered significant, none of the studies identified thoroughly examined the associated costs with provision of smartphones to patients.
The smartphone is one of the most dynamic trends in communication. Smartphones can be used to collect data directly from patients and subjects for clinical trial participation. Self-management and remote monitoring of patients via smartphones are becoming viable solutions for management of chronic conditions. According to the Wolters Kluwer Health 2013 Physician Outlook Survey, eight in 10 physicians use Smartphones in their daily practice and six in 10 use tablets. Over half (55%) use both smartphones and tablets in their daily practice. The top use of smartphones is for accessing drug information while tablets are used most to access medical research. Real time data can be gathered which has the potential to help both patients and providers. Due to the lack of studies found regarding cost, future research is warranted.