Canadians are eager to use their phones to manage their health, but they’d like to see more digital applications used in the health care system, according to recent studies by Canada Health Infoway.
A national survey found that one-third of Canadian adults use mobile apps to track their health and, of those, 42 per cent say they are better prepared to meet with their doctors. Another Infoway study found that while Canadians feel digital health is important for their care, there are gaps in service availability.
“TELUS sees an opportunity to assist service providers who weren’t embracing mobile technology due to the tradeoffs between the ability to deliver a great user experience and the high degree of data security required,” says Shri Kalyanasundaram, head of Digital Identity at TELUS. “The issue is a lack of knowledge about how to effectively manage the risks.”
To move forward with mobile health apps, health care providers need to put the right security measures in place to protect patient information, while still ensuring a modern user experience, says Mike Cook, president of IDENTOS, an industry-leading mobile security solution which has partnered with TELUS. Although healthcare delivery is complex, from a user perspective, it needs to be as easy to consume health care services as it is to order a latté.
Putting the uber in healthcare
The survey results demonstrate that there is a big opportunity for the health sector to use mobile applications to deliver the care that citizens want. Canada is a highly connected market where mobile data use is more than doubling every two years. What’s more, TELUS Health statistics reveal that smartphone users look at their devices 150 times a day on average.
Just as Uber disrupted the taxi industry, the health care system needs to find new ways to address challenges resulting from the aging population and increasing costs. According to Deloitte, “mobile health is enhancing overall consumer engagement in health care by increasing the flow of information, lowering costs through better decision making, fewer in-person visits and greater adherence to treatment plans.”
As an example, patients have been able to reduce visits to the doctor by uploading blood sugar readings on their phones with an app that plots a graph to depict trends over time. Other mobile health apps track health indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate, sleep and weight allowing doctors to prescribe preventative treatments before serious problems arise.
Security and the user experience
Delays in the introduction of new health applications occur because developers get bogged down on building the bullet-proof security required to protect the privacy of patient information, says Cook. “The security of mobile health apps is of the highest priority.”
Healthcare organizations are prime targets for cyber attackers who use patient records for identity theft. “To the cyberhackers, healthcare information is worth ten times as much as any other information,” Bill Tholl, president of HealthCareCAN told Global News. “Canadians want a portable electronic health record. We just have to do everything we can to make sure it’s as secure as it can be.”
Healthcare applications will take off when they are safe, easy to use and deliver benefits for Canadians, says Cook. With the right security measures in place, health care providers will be able to connect to valuable data sources and share them with users. Once that is in place, the smartphone will become one of the best tools for the sector to transform the future of healthcare.
This article is part of a series sponsored by TELUS on mobile security in the healthcare industry. Next up: Securing the User Experience.
Learn more about TELUS Mobile Security Solutions here.