Health Improvement in Diabetes Patients Noted after Downloading mHealth Apps

According to a statement emailed to MHW, new research “Empowering Patients Using Smart Mobile Health Platforms: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment,” from NYU Stern Professor Anindya Ghose and co-authors, Beibei Li of Carnegie Mellon University and Xitong Guo of the Harbin Institute of Technology, explores how emerging mobile health (mHealth) technologies can persuade chronic-disease patients to modify their behaviors, better manage their care, and achieve improved health outcomes, including reductions in hospital visits and medical expenses over time.

This first-of-its-kind study combines data from a major mHealth firm in China, as well as the Office of Chronic Disease Management in China to evaluate the potential value of technologies such as mobile health apps and mobile-enabled EHRs as well as the importance of mHealth platform design in achieving better health care outcomes.

Analyzing almost 10,000 unique responses from diabetes patients over 15 months, the study reveals:

  • Patients who adopt the mHealth platform see over 2000% reduction, on average, in glucose levels over time. They also show an average 327% reduction in hospital visits and 799% reduction in medical expenses, suggesting a significant economic effect for healthcare providers, insurance carriers, and individual patients.
  • Mobility is key to patients’ self-management success. The mHealth platform has more than 20% greater impact on patients’ health outcomes as the web-based option, although both versions provide the same functionality.
  • Platform design is critical to achieving better health outcomes. Non-personalized SMS messages with generalized guidance about diabetes care are 18% more effective than personalized messages at reducing glucose levels over time. However, personalized SMS messages are more effective in reducing hospital visits and medical costs. Knowing when to employ each, in combination with other functionality, is vital for patient empowerment.

“By assisting patients with behavior modification and disease self-management, mHealth platforms have tremendous potential for improving health outcomes and reducing medical costs,” Professor Ghose explains. “With this research, companies have an opportunity to better understand patients’ interaction with mHealth technology and design elements that will be most effective for patient adoption and engagement.”

With an estimated 50% of smartphone and tablet users now downloading mHealth applications and a market growing at a rate close to 50%, mHealth technologies have the potential to transform the way patients communicate with their healthcare providers, evaluate health recommendations, and implement their chronic-disease therapy.

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