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Empowering Patients Using Smart Mobile Health Platforms Evidence From A Randomized Field Experiment

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Document pages: 68 pages

Abstract: With today s technological advancements, mobile phones and wearable deviceshave become extensions of an increasingly diffused and smart digitalinfrastructure. In this paper, we examine mobile health (mHealth) platforms andtheir health and economic impacts on the outcomes of chronic disease patients.We partnered with a major mHealth firm that provides one of the largest mHealthapps in Asia specializing in diabetes care. We designed a randomized fieldexperiment based on detailed patient health activities (e.g., exercises, sleep,food intake) and blood glucose values from 1,070 diabetes patients over severalmonths. We find the adoption of the mHealth app leads to an improvement inhealth behavior, which leads to both short term metrics (reduction in patients blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin levels) and longer-term metrics (hospitalvisits and medical expenses). Patients who adopted the mHealth app undertookmore exercise, consumed healthier food, walked more steps and slept for longertimes. They also were more likely to substitute offline visits with telehealth.A comparison of mobile vs. PC version of the same app demonstrates that mobilehas a stronger effect than PC in helping patients make these behavioralmodifications with respect to diet, exercise and lifestyle, which leads to animprovement in their healthcare outcomes. We also compared outcomes when theplatform facilitates personalized health reminders to patients vs. genericreminders. Surprisingly, we find personalized mobile messages withpatient-specific guidance can have an inadvertent (smaller) effect on patientapp engagement and lifestyle changes, leading to a lower health improvement.However, they are more like to encourage a substitution of offline visits bytelehealth. Overall, our findings indicate the massive potential of mHealthtechnologies and platform design in achieving better healthcare outcomes.

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