The concept of mobility used to just be about going places, but has really evolved into being equally about doing whatever you need to do, from the most convenient location.
Huge strides have been made in the area of telemedicine, by which patients can electronically connect with doctors and specialists via computer, smartphone, email and other such avenues. This is particularly useful for patients in rural areas that typically lack access to specialized medicine, and makes it easier for doctors to review test results, scans and other data in real time. Telemedicine is also helpful for people receiving home health care because it allows data to be transmitted from patient to doctor or nurse for ongoing review; this is called remote patient monitoring [source: American Telemedicine Association].
Apps are also breaking new ground in the mobile medicine arena every day, offering video chats with doctors (for a fee), physician locator/referrals, symptom checkers, insurance coverage information and just about anything else you can imagine [source: Huffington Post]. In addition, some smartphones are now being outfitted with the ability to take basic vital signs, such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen [source: Whiteman]. And smartphone attachments that can detect ear infections or analyze skin lesions, and send the images to your doctor are becoming available as well [source: Swanson]. "They're not just gadgets for the sake of gadgets, but gadgets to improve outcomes and efficiency," says Dr. Feldman.
As technology and innovation continue to explode, so does the potential for mobile medicine. A Dutch college student has developed an emergency drone (a small, unmanned plane), which can travel at about 62 miles (100 kilometers) per hour to deliver a defibrillator to treat people suffering cardiac emergencies. The early minutes of cardiac arrest are critical to survival, and many people don't live to see an ambulance arrives. The project is still in its infancy, but even if it never turns into reality, it is a great illustration of how to improve available medical equipment through technology [source: McFarland]. In other words, moving onward and upward (literally, in the case of drones) will keep medicine functioning at its finest.
Author's Note: How Mobile Medicine Works
Medicine never ceases to amaze me, and mobile health care is no exception. Although I do love and admire the idea of an emergency drone, I fear the day that my kids figure out how to summon one. Pretty sure that we'll be deep trouble!
More Great Links
- American Telemedicine Association. "What is Telemedicine?" 2015 (March 5, 2015) http://www.americantelemed.org/about-telemedicine/what-is-telemedicine#.VPiGAhs5AqQ
- Apple Tree Dental. "Mobile Services." 2015 (March 4, 2015) http://www.appletreedental.org/dental_care/mobile_dental_care
- ASPCA. "ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic." 2015 (March 3, 2015) http://www.aspca.org/nyc/aspca-mobile-spayneuter-clinic
- Brown Cancer Center. "Mobile Mammography Unit." 2015 (March 4, 2015) http://browncancercenter.org/programs-services/cancer-screenings/breast-care-center-mammography-services/mobile-mammography-unit/
- Crees, Alex. "ER on wheels: Mobile center opens doors to patients after Sandy." Fox News. Nov. 6, 2012 (March 5, 2015) http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/11/06/er-on-wheels-mobile-center-opens-doors-to-patients-after-sandy/
- Feldman, Joseph M.D., F.A.C.E.P. Hackensack University Medical Center. Telephone interview, March 4, 2015.
- HackensackUMC. "HackensackUMC Mobile Satellite Emergency Department." 2015 (March 4, 2015) http://www.hackensackumc.org/msed/
- Huffington Post. "10 Apps to Help You Get the Health Care You Need." Feb. 24, 2014 (March 4, 2015) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/find-a-doctor-apps-medical-health_n_4826391.html
- Lake City Animal Hospital. "Euthanasia Services." 2015 (March 4, 2015) http://thelakecityanimalhospital.com/veterinary-services/euthanasia-services.html
- McFarland, Matt. "A student's ambitious plan to canvas the Netherlands with 'ambulance drones.'" The Washington Post. Oct. 30, 2014 (March 4, 2015) http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/10/30/a-students-ambitious-plan-to-canvas-the-netherlands-with-ambulance-drones/
- O'Connell, E; Zhang G, Leguen F, Prince J. "Impact of a mobile van on prenatal care utilization and birth outcomes in Miami-Dade County." Matern Child Health J. July 2010 (March 4, 2015) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19685179
- Odulair. "Mobile Emergency Room." 2015 (March 3, 2015) http://www.odulair.com/mobile-emergency-room.html
- Oklahoma State University Medical Center. "Mobile Cardiology." 2015 (March 4, 2015) http://www.osumc.net/services-specialities/mobile-cardiology/
- Smile Programs. "Smile Programs." 2015 (March 3, 2015) http://www.mobiledentists.com/
- Vericor. "Emergency Rooms." 2015 (March 3, 2015) http://www.vericormed.com/mobile-emergency-room/