Advancing Healthcare Research Via Consumer Mobile Devices
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By numerous measures, the smartphones in our pockets and pocketbooks have more computing power than the supercomputers of the 1990s. Smartphones provide a general platform for software applications and host a suite of sensors, including location and activity sensing. Smartphones have become ubiquitous in the developed world. They are nearly always on and always nearby. As such, smartphones provide rich opportunities for healthcare research—and for promising directions in health and wellness more generally.
See Article by Nguyen et al
The article, by Nguyen et al,1 published in this issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, highlights the untapped potential of bringing together smartphones, online survey tools, and electronic health records for healthcare research and delivery. The authors present research on tracking hospitalizations via the use of smartphones and online surveys. Identifying hospitalizations in an accurate and efficient manner could help with tracking and understanding the incidence of disease, adverse outcomes of medical interventions, and recurrence of illness. Developing a low-cost and accurate means of tracking significant hospitalizations, such as admissions for acute cardiovascular events, would enable new kinds of studies. Although visits to hospitals are tracked in electronic medical records, the approach presented by the authors offers a holistic view on hospitalizations that span multiple medical facilities and healthcare networks.
A key contribution of the work by Nguyen et al1 is a characterization of the effectiveness of a version of geofencing—the use of location services to identify when people enter an area of interest. In a multiyear study, volunteer participants aged ≥18 years installed a special application on their phones. The application uses the global positioning system and cell tower triangulation to identify regions near hospitals, per a predetermined set of stored locations. When a participant using the application is detected within a …