6 July 2012
Quickening pulse of mHealth
|Medical diagnosis by phone. (Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/sjlocke)|
The trend has been set by the growing prominence of smartphone and tablet integration, particularly in the US.
There's been a big push towards consumer-friendly apps that enable a patient to take a more direct role in monitoring and maintaining their general health or ongoing medical conditions. As well, apps for the health-conscious allow consumers to track their fitness, nutrition and even psychological health.
On the medical specialists' side, useful directories and even Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -approved diagnostic-level apps are hitting the market.
The increase in health app revenue stems from downloads, in-app advertising, mHealth services, direct transactions and sensor sales.
Although not all apps have met with equal success, some have been a great aid to both patients and doctors.
Some apps are diagnostic grade, and have received FDA approval. The app Mobile MIM can turn any smartphone or tablet into a diagnostic medical instrument. It is used for viewing MRI scans, and makes the scans themselves infinitely portable, as well as allowing doctors to share scan results with each other.
The Mobile MIM app has two aspects: one for doctors to view the scan and use it for diagnostic purposes, the other so that patients can keep a log of their own scan results, called VueMe.
Apps only require FDA approval when they technically turn a smartphone into an existing regulated medical device, such as an app that can turn an iPad into an ECG machine.
Most apps are not diagnostic grade and so don't require FDA approval.
Increasingly, doctors are integrating iPads into their practices alongside the common stethoscope, but not without concern. Healthcare costs are already soaring, and some see handing out iPads to doctors as a needless expense.
Also, doctors are faced with the distraction the iPad presents, like Facebook and online games.
Many of the medical or health related apps are aimed at either fitness or weight loss. Popular choices include manual calorie and exercise trackers, such as MyFitnessPal or Livestrong.
Other apps use pedometers or heart rate monitors that synch with the app to track personal fitness. Nike + and Fitbit take up over 60% of that market.
In addition to tracking personal health with fitness tools, some apps are designed to synch with other health monitors, such as glucose blood tests for diabetes patients, or blood pressure cuffs.
Withings, a French start-up, has created a blood pressure cuff that connects to an iPad or an iPhone. The cuff inflates, deflates and records the pulse rate and blood pressure of the user, in addition to logging the numbers over time. Users can then track and graph their numbers, making any trends easy to see.
The app Glucose Buddy has been very successful with diabetes patients. Users manually enter daily and can track and graph them with ease.
All of these consumer-friendly apps, though they range from the clinical (monitoring blood pressure) to the recreational (a daily calorie log), have the common purpose of putting the consumers in charge of monitoring their own health.
from Kelly Duncan, Chicago Office
|Glucose Buddy||Email: email@example.com
|MIM Software||Tel: (1) 216-455-0600
Fax: (1) 216-455-0601
|Nike Plus||Web: http://www.nikeplus.com|
|Research2guidance||Tel: (49) 30-609-893-360
Jean François Kitten, Contact Person
|Tel: (33) 6-11-29-30-28