Mobile Computing and Networking in Healthcare

Introduction

Tiny, portable gadgets, such as pocket digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones, have been pushed on the mark in recent years. Mobile or ubiquitous computing and handy gadgets are changing the relations between computers and humans. There is an introduction of a new communication approach based on context. This approach enables people to interact with computers, objects, and environments seamlessly.

Mobile computing devices have enabled composite cooperation and communication patterns that were not dreamt of in the past years. They possess vital features in portability, sharing information using communication networks, wireless, and synchronizing the information with other standardized gadgets. There are drastic changes in the technological landscape in the past years led by the emergence of mobile computing devices focusing on consumer preferences.

The rapid increase in the use of mobile computing gadgets is nowadays noticeable in the medical or healthcare industry. The healthcare industry has never been a frontrunner in terms of Information technology and computing in relation to caring for patients and clinical trials. Health care providers are adopting new and innovative ways of using mobile computing platforms to support patient care. Thus, through a constant drive to find a new method of improving the quality of patients’ lives, the health care industry has benefited. This has seen the enormous growth of wearable portable systems, monitoring the patient’s conditions for vital signs.

This paper focuses on assessing the concept of monitoring patients using mobile computing gadgets transmitting using wireless technology. It also assesses the use of social networks to group support for patients with similar medical conditions.

Monitoring patients using wearable, mobile gadgets

Concepts

Mobile health monitoring systems have come in handy in helping people engage closely in their own health care. This technology involves integrating a biosensor that monitors vital signs (such as heart rate, BP, temperature, and other health-related information), environmental sensors, and a location sensor into a wearable wireless network. This allows enduring, unobtrusive monitoring with immediate feedback to the patient or physician about the current status and a real-time update of the user’s health data.

The data make up the EPR (an electronic patient record), which allows the patient’s health status data to be accessed using many devices and heterogeneous networks. Mobile computing application in medicine allows access to EPR for consolidated information on patients from any network location. This advancement has brought about many benefits to the medical industry. However, it does not make a substitute for the direct eye to eye meeting between the patient and the doctor due to the various setbacks it suffers.

Advantages of using mobile computing to monitor patients

Monitoring patients using wearable, mobile devices have a lot of merits as compared to the traditional inpatient visit by the patient. These include:

Patient participation in their own health care

This technology allows the healthcare providers to be close and interact more with patients. This grows the sense of ownership amongst patients and their relatives as they tend to take in more information and interact with it. This interaction provides the clinician improved access to information, thus leading to a better diagnosis. The resultant is a sense of ownership in the patients, leading to high diagnosis acceptance rates and following post-diagnosis orders.

Easier and quicker visibility of the patient’s condition

The physician does not have to wait for laboratory results to be sent or telemetry to be done. Mobile computing devices allow for real-time viewing of information.

Increase in efficiency of healthcare

The provider does not have to move from machine to machine, one room to the other, seeking the patient’s data. Updated data can be accessed from the electronic patient records in real-time by the wearable monitoring devices. This leads to swift and accurate decision-making concerning patients’ issues since it relies on accurate data.

Cost

The development of these mobile devices can be realized within modest charges compared to specialty systems. The maintenance of these small but essential devices is also low compared to the specialty systems. This pulls down the cost of running mobile-computing monitoring devices.

Disadvantages of using mobile computing to monitor patients

Monitoring patients using mobile computing powered devices also suffer some setbacks.

Health hazard

The issue of radiations is still unclear posing uncertainties on its application. The health care industry players have not agreed on the standards of these devices.

Technical stress

Its application may bring more technical emphasis, resulting in a stress issue to patients and medics (Brahnam and Jain, 2010). The patients’ data have to be stored securely. This is often a challenge because the users of these devices may be unequipped with the necessary level of expertise to perform the encryption tasks.

However, security is a point of concern in the application of these gadgets. An effective protocol or security measure should be used to ensure heavy security to the data accessed through them. This entails the implementation of strong access protocols at both the gadget and the network levels. Appropriate encryption measures should also be implemented to safeguard against unauthorized access to the information stored in the device in case it lands in the wrong hands due to theft. However, these devices should be designed only to view sensitive data locally on the mobile computing device rather than store it.

Use of the social network to group support for patients

Online health social networking sites give patients the privilege of obtaining and disclosing information on some health conditions without disclosing their identities (Turban and Volonino, 2011). Support groups help patients to cope with the various conditions by providing social support and a network of information to their members. Patients educate each other on the conditions and treatments using the social network.

This often impacts the old doctor-patient relationship and could develop a foundation for a market-driven system where clients can make choices. Health-oriented social networks are extremely beneficial to patients. They provide instrumental support by providing stress-relieving services, financial assistance, advice, and willingness to help. It offers to nurture support to comfort stressed patients without necessarily solving the problems leading to the stress by making the patient feel cared for.

Conclusion

The application of technology in the health industry has come a long way. Its adoption in the monitoring of patients has been extremely beneficial to both patients and doctors. However, there are still concerns over the security of the many sensitive data passed on from one point to the other by these mobile devices. Improved security measures should be enacted to ensure that the patient’s data is safe from external access since it may incriminate the privacy right of the patient.

Health care oriented social network has been much of a platform where patients share their experiences. The healthcare providers get to acquaint themselves with the patients’ experiences and also market their services by engaging directly with the patients.

References

Brahnam, S., & Jain, L. C. (2010). Advanced Computational Intelligence Paradigms in Healthcare 5: Intelligent Decision Support Systems. Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Shahriyar, R., Bari, F., Kundu, G., Ahamed, S., & Akbar, M.(2009). Intelligent Mobile Health Monitoring System (IMHMS). In P.kostkova (Eds..), Electronic Healthcare: Second International ICST Conference, EHealth 2009 Istanbul, Turkey, September 2009 Revised Selected Papers (pp. 5-12). Berlin, Germany: Springer.

Tan, J., (2005). EHealth Care Information Systems: An Introduction for Students and Professionals. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Turban, E., & Volonino, L. (2011). Information Technology for management: Improving strategic and operational performance (8th ed.). Hoboken NJ: John Wiley & Sons.