Healthcare is in the midst of a mobile revolution. The growing uptake of digital health applications on smartphones is radically changing the way healthcare is delivered. Mobile health (or mHealth as the industry is becoming known) will soon be the new stand ard, and health apps will play an ever-increasing role in this system.
With over 17,000 health and medical apps available in iTunes at an average price of $2.00, the “Health” and “Medical” categories are two of the fastest growing sectors of app development. Additional research shows that:
- 500 million people will be using mobile health apps by 2015 ( Mobile Health Market Report)
- 21% of people who track their health use some form of technology ( Pew Research)
- The mobile health apps market will grow to 4.1 billion by 2014 ( Technavio)
- 87% of US internet users looked online for health and wellness research in 2012 ( eMarketer)
This growing usage is leading to mainstream recognition, too. In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration began paving the way for mobile apps that ensure health claims pass an approval process before becoming available to the consumer market.
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Q&A: Brad Vettese, EVP & Managing Director – Wireless
What are the major mobile trends impacting the future of healthcare?
1. Extended Access
With the possibility of uploading to a cloud-based management platform, a doctor or health worker could capture and send images or lab results using smartphones, and get a diagnosis from an expert in another country.
The wireless revolution in healthcare is also greatly assisted by a new California law that permits doctors to be able to consult with patients remotely (“telehealth”), without the need for an in-person visit first. This is a major step forward, particularly for seniors, migrant workers, and those who live in rural areas.
In India, rural-dwellers gain access to medical care far from their home towns through video conferencing. Using broadband connections, doctors geographically remote from patients can examine them and diagnose particular problems. In countries where physicians are in short supply in rural areas, this enables those in under-served locales to get medical treatment.
2. Wireless Monitoring
New wireless products like iTriage and Care Pass are revolutionary applications which put the patient in the center of the healthcare equation and gives them the power wirelessly to make health care decisions when, where and how it’s most convenient for them.
Real-time management devices keep patients out of doctor’s offices for routine care, and thereby helps to reduce health care costs. According to an analysis by economist Robert Litan, remote monitoring technologies could save as much as $197 billion over the next 25 years in the United States.
Moreover, a review of 25 studies on voice and text messaging interventions in care management found significant benefits. Researchers documented improvements “in compliance with medicine taking, asthma symptoms, stress levels, smoking quit races, and self-efficacy. Process improvements were reported in lower failed appointments, quicker diagnosis and treatment, and improving teaching and training.”
3. Prescriptive Data
Fuel band s, fitbits, and jawbones are only the very tip of the iceberg and just a means to an end. That end is generating a data stream. Your daily data combined with the data in the cloud will make it personally relevant and prescriptive versus just descriptive.
This changes the overall conversation about your health. Prescriptive data allows the patient to take the proactive role in their health along with an overall team of healthy lifestyle providers. For example, a telehealth product called Sensei Wellness Plus targets the key risk factors and lifestyle management related to cardiovascular disease. The aim is to transform a mobile phone into a virtual coach, providing personalized, timely, and specific guidance as a seamless part of an individual’s activities.
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Expect 2013 to be a banner year for mHealth as advancements in mobile technology have equated to gains in universal access and a more integrated care delivery model here and abroad. More importantly, mobile devices help reduce the overall costs of healthcare while at the same time ensuring better health outcomes. And in healthcare, nothing is more important than that.