Time to digitally disconnect?

14 Sep

It is very common to see groups of people looking at their mobile devices in any place at any time: on holiday, at work, at home, in the underground, on the bus, in a congress, ….. wherever. It is also common to take advantage of our holidays to say that we will make the most of these days to disconnect from our routines. Does this include disconnecting our mobile phones, tablets, laptops, the TV or email?

At AQuAS, as an agency involved in health assessment, we do not know this. What we do know is that there is more and more talk of connected health, a term which includes mHealth, eHealth and all related concepts, which have been a part of everyday life for some time now.

At a level of the Catalan system of health, we have in this post by Òscar Solans an example of the development of technological tools which involve new ways of interaction between patients and the health system. In this way, La Meva Salut and eConsult are useful tools when placing the patient, the person that is, at the centre of all the interactions there are with the health professionals coming from different fields.

At a European level, Jean Patrick Mathieu and Rossana Alessandrello wrote about how complex the subjects of interoperability and the implementation of mobile technological solutions are, in this other post. This was the framework for the European project DECIPHER whose goal was to facilitate the access to health information from different countries and health systems.

Let’s change the perspective. At an individual level, who does not have an app downloaded on their mobile phone? Which of these apps have to do with something related to health, such as weight control, for example, or as support when doing physical exercise, to keep track of menstrual cycles, fertility calendars or aspects of mental and emotional health? And no need to limit ourselves to talking about mobile devices: who has not heard of calculators for aspects of health such as calculators of life expectancy?

Downloading an app is very easy and can even be free. In this post by Elisa Puigdomènech, she highlighted the fact that in mid-2016 The Economist explained there were some 165,000 apps related to health. This figure must no doubt have increased.

What does the success of an app depend on? What guarantees of quality and safety do they offer?

Regarding the first question, the user experience was the subject on which Elisa Puigdomènech put the emphasis, based on the experience obtained in the PEGASO project. Along the same lines, Santi Gómez spoke about the fact that the development of a health application must, in all phases of its development, include the participation of those who will ultimately be the end users.

And in terms of the second question, any health intervention should be safe, be based on evidence, on the best quality knowledge available and should be assessable. This is the premise with which we at the AQuAS work and this is the role that an assessment agency can play when thinking about connected health. Thus, this post by Toni Dedéu places the emphasis on the fact that technologists, assessors, professionals and citizens have the opportunity to work together and combine their expertise but not forgetting the speed of innovation.

In conclusion, the assessment of connected health is a current topic. This article was recently published, and is a good example of a proposal for a conceptual framework. We end this post with an editorial about innovation and evidence which invites one to reflect on assessment and innovation.

Post written by Marta Millaret (@MartaMillaret)

 

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