Mobile medical innovations hint at healthcare industry disruption
The continuing growth in mobile medical innovations brings a major disruption in healthcare delivery and management closer than ever. The era of virtual healthcare, dominated by telemedicine, digital diagnostics and remote monitoring, is coming.
The first phase has included fitness wearables that monitor heart rates, remind us to work out or tell us how many steps we’ve taken that day. According to Percolate, the number of wearable devices is forecasted to increase more than sixfold between 2015 and 2020. PwC Health Research Institute’s “Top health industry issues of 2016” revealed that health-related mobile app adoption doubled in two years, with nearly one-third of consumers having at least one health, fitness or medical app on their smartphone.
Yet mobile medical innovation has already expanded well beyond these basic health apps.
Apps to diagnose, treat and monitor what ails us
The health app market has a plethora of heart and blood pressure monitoring apps. Companies like MySugr have developed a range of apps to help people learn about and manage their diabetes. Other apps provide direct therapies, like the SimpleC Companion, which helps the lay caregiver provide therapies to loved ones living with Alzheimer’s.
One cutting-edge trend is the development of diagnostic devices that attach to your mobile phone. Thanks to CellScope, parents can tether their smartphone to a miniature video camera designed to fit into a child’s ear, which works with an app to send the video for immediate diagnosis by a doctor. Healthcare providers can attach a special retinal imaging adapter from Peek Vision to a smartphone to screen for a host of illnesses that are detectable through our eyes. These small, simple devices empower doctors and nurses to make easy, accurate screening available anywhere in the world for relatively low costs.
Both doctors and consumers can appreciate apps that help patients take their medications correctly. Poor “drug adherence,” as the medical profession calls it, is a massive problem in successfully conquering treatable conditions. In a 2011 study, the Mayo Clinic estimated that 50 percent of patients don’t adhere to doctor’s instructions when taking their medications.
The Bernard Becker Medical Library at Washington University in St. Louis provides a list of FDA-approved medical mobile apps, including apps that work as portable EKGs or that estimate blood loss during surgery.
Using mobile medical innovations to create more knowledgeable healthcare providers and consumers
The majority of apps in the medical information app sector constitutes medical libraries, med student learning apps, health records and personal health information management. Even so, there are some innovative things happening in the area of healthcare information apps.
Healthcare consumers are finding value in apps that provide information on treatment costs. MyMedicalShopper helps patients break through obtuse medical pricing, including direct comparison of procedure pricing at different clinics and hospitals, as well as track their deductible expenses. GoodRx provides consumers with price comparisons for prescription drugs.
For healthcare providers, apps broaden the scope of professional collaboration and development. Doximity, which is both a desktop and mobile app, is a social media network for doctors. It claims to provide HIPAA-quality security so doctors can fax patient documents to any other doctor in the network for consultation. It also customizes medical news and research for each doctor. Read by QxMD is another app intended to keep healthcare professionals current on the latest medical research.
As usual, mobile improves access and cuts costs
Mobile medical innovations expand access to quality healthcare for everyone. Urban millennials can use apps like Heal to schedule house calls. Healthcare providers in the most remote areas of the world can now diagnose malaria and tuberculosis on their smartphones with xRapid.
Quality of care improves with the ability to leverage cognitive computing techniques for a growing app database so health providers and companies can better predict, diagnose and prevent a host of medical issues. For example, medical publisher PLM used IBM Mobile to develop an app that warns doctors where there might be drug abuse or potentially harmful drug interactions.
Transforming traditional healthcare to virtual healthcare requires improving telemedicine technologies and infrastructure. The potential benefits of mobile medical innovations in the form of expanded access, improved care and lower costs can’t be ignored.