Patients all over the world now have access to mobile devices—such as cell phones that can run mobile apps. Apps are gold to increase patient engagement.
Consider depression patients: Resource constraints make it difficult for many of them to receive adequate face-to-face consultation from psychiatrists, nurses and other caregivers. Mobile apps facilitate distance communication. In particular, a social media platform integrated with mobile apps enables depression patients to receive increased support from family members, friends, and other patients. As plenty of research evidence shows, social support is the key to self-management and recovery for depression patients.
Nevertheless, the use of mobile apps—even if they are efficient—necessitates time and effort. From the viewpoint of professional caregivers, insurers must be willing to reimburse services provided through mobile apps or the technology may not be embraced enthusiastically. Government agencies and insurance companies must carefully consider reimbursement mechanisms. What are relevant benchmarks? Are there differences between the developed and less developed worlds?
Mobile apps also allow data collection about patients’ social networks. If these data can be synthesized with electronic health records (EHR)—without breaching patients’ confidentiality—positive health outcomes can result. But is it possible to synthesize social media data and EHR? How? What may be other "big data" opportunities here?