06.09.2018 Editorial – Roy Salveter.
At first hand. Who of us has never used the pedometer function on our smartphone? This function and all the other health and fitness apps that can be found on the ever-present smartphone would not have been possible without the megatrend of digitalisation. These apps can measure data from our body with utmost accuracy, whether forthe purpose of tracking our physical activity, improving our athletic performance and efficiency, recording our sleep phases or giving us nutritional recommendations.
They are ultimately no more than an aid. Nevertheless, they can help us to know our body better, keep it healthy or improve its health. In the light of this, there is no doubt that mHealth apps have enormous potential for preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes or musculoskeletal diseases; in particular for people who are already affected or who are very likely to contract one at some point in the future. The widespread availability of smartphones and the large number of free apps are thus helping more people to benefit from a greater range of ways of doing something beneficial for their health.
Showing people the benefits of taking more exercise or adopting a healthier diet can be a major challenge for specialists in the field of prevention. mHealth applications combine fun, are user-friendly and have strong data security. They could representa recommendable tool in order to increase motivation and make it easier for people to take the first step towards improving their health.
To achieve, this will require an effort by everyone involved. Companies and researchers will have to develop and produce user-friendly apps that embody high ethical and moral standards, while doctors and other healthcare professionals will have to motivate their patients to exploit suitable digital applications. This is the only way we are able to benefit from the potential which mHealth offers.
Head of the Department for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases