Empowering people by giving them access to their health data on their mobile devices will shift the emphasis from treatment to prevention.

The future of health looks a lot like your mobile device: personal, accessible in real-time, and connected.

But in a healthcare context, the mobile device presents a real challenge, because health systems are notoriously complex—fragmented, highly politicised, and full of security and privacy concerns.

And the concerns are well-founded. According to the United States Office of Civil Rights (OCR), in 2015, some 253 healthcare breaches affected 500 individuals or more, with a combined loss of over 112 million records[1]


A number of additional factors are complicating this challenge:

  • The population is aging and increasing the demand on our healthcare systems, with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease massively driving up demand for treatments. In the USA, chronic diseases are responsible for7 of 10 deaths [2] each year, and treating people with chronic diseases accounts for 86% of the nation’s health care costs. [3]

  • The discovery of new treatments, while exciting, also drives demand and cost. At the same time, governments are facing the real prospect of dwindling tax revenue as the number of tax-payers falls compared to the growing number of elderly citizens. Such pressure on the health system requires efficiency like never before. In the USA alone, $910 billion (representing 34% of total US healthcare spend) is waste, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

  • People who suffer chronic conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and hypertension are growing in numbers, and if left too late, can present expensive episodes in hospital. One 2012 study from the American Diabetes Association said the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes wasUS$245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in reduced productivity. [5]
A change in approach

So what should healthcare providers do to adapt to this sea change? They need to shift their emphasis from treatment to prevention by empowering the population with their own health data. 

Imagine it: people managing their own lifestyle around healthy goals and tasks, and when there’s a concern or a patient’s health deteriorates, their mobile device serves as a connection between them and their clinician.

Their mobile device becomes the medium through which the exchange of relevant data—and the presentation of specific goals, actions, and care plans to the patient, based on their individual profile—is possible. A doctor can alert a patient and discuss treatment before the patient’s condition deteriorates and hospitalisation is required, healthcare resources can be more effectively utilised, and entire populations can remain healthier for longer.

One example of a healthcare organisation making the move from a reactive to a preventative approach to healthcare is the Canterbury District Health Board in New Zealand. They’ve created mobile applications that will serve as the platform for clinicians and patients to communicate with each other, access and contribute to their electronic health data, and have the ability to submit self-observations, answer questionnaires, and set personal well-being goals.

To learn more about how Canterbury District Health Board created an electronic, patient-centric view of data, click here or visit our Engage product page below.