Empowering Patients Using Smart Mobile Health Platforms: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

Forthcoming at MIS Quarterly

NYU Stern School of Business Forthcoming

68 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2021

See all articles by Anindya Ghose

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Xitong Guo

Harbin Institute of Technology

Beibei Li

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

Yuanyuan DANG

Harbin Institute of Technology

Date Written: January 25, 2021

Abstract

With today’s technological advancements, mobile phones and wearable devices have become extensions of an increasingly diffused and smart digital infrastructure. In this paper, we examine mobile health (mHealth) platforms and their health and economic impacts on the outcomes of chronic disease patients. To do so, we partnered with a major mHealth firm that provides one of the largest mobile health app platforms in Asia specializing in diabetes care. We designed and implemented a randomized field experiment based on detailed patient health activities (e.g., steps, exercises, sleep, food intake) and blood glucose values from 1,070 diabetes patients over several months. Our main findings show that the adoption of the mHealth app leads to an improvement in health behavior, which in turn leads to both short term metrics (such as reduction in patients’ blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin levels) and longer-term metrics (such as hospital visits and medical expenses). Patients who adopted the mHealth app undertook higher levels of exercise, consumed healthier food with lower calories, walked more steps and slept for longer times on a daily basis. They also were more likely to substitute offline visits with telehealth. A comparison of mobile vs. PC enabled version of the same app demonstrates that the mobile has a stronger effect than PCs in helping patients make these behavioral modifications with respect to diet, exercise and lifestyle, which ultimately leads to an improvement in their healthcare outcomes. We also compared outcomes when the platform facilitates personalized health reminders to patients vis-à-vis generic (non-personalized) reminders. Surprisingly, we found that personalized mobile messages with patient-specific guidance can have an inadvertent (smaller) effect on patient app engagement and lifestyle changes, leading to a lower health improvement. However, they are more like to encourage a substitution of offline visits by telehealth. Overall, our findings indicate the massive potential of mHealth technologies and platform design in achieving better healthcare outcomes.

Keywords: mHealth, mobile app, healthcare platform, chronic disease, diabetes, personalization, patient self-management

Suggested Citation

Ghose, Anindya and Guo, Xitong and Li, Beibei and DANG, Yuanyuan, Empowering Patients Using Smart Mobile Health Platforms: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment (January 25, 2021). Forthcoming at MIS Quarterly, NYU Stern School of Business Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3773184

Anindya Ghose

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Xitong Guo

Harbin Institute of Technology ( email )

huanghe road
harbin, heilongjiang 150001
China

Beibei Li (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Yuanyuan DANG

Harbin Institute of Technology

huanghe road
harbin, heilongjiang 150001
China

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