This paper is an exploratory study of the cost of, quality in, and access to mobile applications in healthcare. To generate the research findings and to be able to discuss its implications, following elements are necessary.
This study makes use of published studies about mobile healthcare (mHealth) and mobile health applications that are available at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) of the National Library of Medicine in the US. These studies are accessed through PubMed and PubMed Cetral, two of the numerous databases maintained by NLM.
Data collection methods
This researcher collected information through desk research and online data-gathering. The research engines Google, Yahoo, and Ask were utilized to have an initial survey of existing information. The keywords “cost,” “quality,” “access,” “mobile applications,” and “mobile healthcare” were typed in the search boxes in various combinations. In google, ”cost of mobile health applications” generated 278 million hits. When cost was replaced with quality, there were 264 million sources; but the number of hits rose to 300 million when “access” was the first term used. The number of hits lowered to 47 million when the phrase typed in the search box was “cost of, quality in, and access to mobile applications in healthcare.”
The second part of data-gathering was selecting materials published in peer-reviewed journals. PubMed and PubMed Central were the selected databases because these are attached to an academic institution (the NLM) and also to a government entity. It was expected that when the keywords used earlier would be typed in these site’s search boxes, the number of hits would substantially be lowered. It was interesting to note that the titles of at least 1,000 studies contain the words “cost, quality, access to mobile applications in healthcare.” From these materials, the researcher went through the titles and short-listed the ones that would be most relevant to the current study.
Besides the studies, other sources were likewise collected to provide additional support to the discussions. These included charts and tables which were either lifted from the previous studies or generated by this researcher using data from the available materials.
Data analysis procedures
The main method of analysis was finding themes and identifying patterns in the studies. The researcher investigated the collected studies and identified patterns and themes in their investigations. This part of the research took the most time because as Bernard (2000) says “pawing and shuffling through [the] texts and thinking about them is the best way to start.” Although the focus was clearly on the cost, quality, and access, the studies provided a lot more information besides these. The researcher then grouped together downloaded materials under the categories cost, or quality, or access for easier identification.
This research attempted to answer the following research questions:
- What is mobile health care (mHealth) and where is it applied?
- What are the costs associated with mobile healthcare?
- What mobile health applications are being used and for what purposes?
- Who are the users of mobile health applications?
- What factors affect the users’ access to mobile health applications?
- How is the quality of mobile health applications maintained?
- How effective are mobile health applications?
Collection of information and review of materials were carried out in a period of two weeks. The preparation of the research report took another two weeks to complete.
Mobile health applications
Source: US NLM, 2005
Cost of mobile applications in healthcare
Quality in mobile health applications
Access to mobile health applications
Effectiveness of mobile health applications
Mobile health applications empower the users
Mobile health address workforce crisis
Mobile health applications lower cost
Mobile health applications are ubiquitous. Its benefits have reached not only the health workers and health providers, but this phenomenon has enabled the users to become more in-charge of their health. Mobile health applications are assisting patients to take their medications and follow through with required activities even without the physical presence of their health practitioners. The costs are lowered, quality is assured, and more people gain access to medical care.
Bernard, H.R. (2000). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. London: Sage Publications.