Smartphones are now almost ubiquitous in healthcare. They are routinely used by physicians, patients, and others in the patient care network. Smartphones assist caregivers, encourage patients to interact on social media, and reduce hospital visits.

Here are some ingenious ways smartphones enhance the lives of patients:

Smartphones Assist Caregivers

Caregivers are often fraught with anxiety by the ambiguity of their role. Unlike home health care nurse practitioners who know how to assess, diagnose, evaluate, and provide appropriate medical treatment, a caregiver without medical training is panicked when an aging relative, disabled child, spouse, partner, or friend under their care has unexpected symptoms.

A mother, for instance, taking care of a child getting cell and gene therapy often needs medical guidance when unforeseen symptoms appear after a CRISPR technology-based treatment. Sometimes just a few words of medical advice cancel the need for a hospital visit. At other times, mild symptoms may be a warning sign that necessitates an emergency visit to the hospital.

Now, with a smartphone within reach, a caregiver can simply call or text a doctor when unsure of what to do. They can even go online to get instant information from a health website.  In some cases, too, smartphones can help a panicking caregiver consult a doctor online when, for one reason or another, they can’t get an appointment at a clinic or hospital.

However, this is only the beginning of what’s possible. Smartphones can do far more than make urgent calls or access online information. They can also be used to build an entire support community. An app called Caring Village allows a caregiver to customize a “village;” a group of people who coordinate to help with basic needs like housekeeping, transportation, grocery shopping, and meal preparation.

Besides empowering a caregiver to organize a support team, the app can do many other useful things, such as keeping track of when the patient should have their medications, uploading doctor’s instructions for easy reference, generating a preparedness checklist, and celebrating signs of improvements in a wellness journal.

Smartphones Encourage Social Interaction

Nature has wired human beings to socialize as part of a savanna-based survival strategy, an evolutionary throwback to a time when our puny ancestors were surrounded by bigger, faster, and more ferocious predators. Although we now live in concrete jungles, the urge to reach out and touch someone is still an active genetically-engineered subconscious program. Consequently, when someone is bedridden, their isolation has a debilitating effect similar to someone sentenced to solitary confinement.

Smartphones allow patients to connect with other human beings in the wide world through social media. Virtual friendships compensate for a lack of real-world companionship. Amicable conversations work as a psychic balm and trigger healing neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins to restore a warm glow of happiness.

Besides encouraging patients to connect with friends and family on social media websites, doctors also encourage patients to join social media groups where they can connect with other patients to share their experiences.

Smartphones Reduce Hospital Visits

Patients can monitor their own vital statistics through smartphone applications and attachments. This eliminates the need for routine hospital visits. A pilot study showed that patients with systolic blood pressure experienced a decline of 5.4 mm Hg on average, while those with diastolic blood pressure experienced a decline of 3.5 mm Hg on average.

To sum up, the ubiquity of smartphones in healthcare has improved patient’s lives in a superabundance of ways. It has made the lives of caregivers less stressful, helped patients feel socially connected on social media, and made it possible for patients to monitor themselves rather than visit a hospital for a routine checkup of their vital statistics.