In what began as a gradual process and is now moving along at a brisk clip, technology is bringing change to every area of the healthcare industry — fitness, medicine, etc. While the potential for transforming the entire health industry looms on the horizon, we still have a ways to go before we can do away entirely with the legacy of archaic procedures that linger to this day, still and all we’ve taken tremendous steps toward improving the health industry.
One of the leading factors in the betterment of healthcare is the continually growing use of cell phones, smartphones, and mobile devices. The number of mobile phone users using their devices to look up health and medical information has greatly increased, along with the amount of health apps being downloaded.
Availability of Apps and Data
Easily accessible health data is rapidly increasing along with the growing adoption of health and medical apps, due to the wearable, portable and user-friendly mobile devices now available, which use smart sensors that can capture and send out all kinds of biometric data. Smartphones are hooking up with these diagnostic apps and health-measuring devices to help you stay in tune with your health and fitness — Basis’ Heart and Health Tracker, Lark and Fitbit — to name some of them.
These “quantified self” devices are becoming ever more popular, as they attempt to satisfy our insatiable craving for more data, and provide a way to bring the doctor’s office home with us — or wherever we may go. There are many choices of diagnostic and tracking tools like AliveCor, which allows you to measure your heart rate from your phone, or Philips’Vital Signs Camera that measures your heart and breathing rates using your iPad camera, or Skin Scan, which measures your risk of skin cancer from your iPhone.
These apps and devices range from fitness to the more directly medical, and more and more they’re combining with dashboards and the cloud, because a single app wouldn’t be very useful if it couldn’t talk to other similar apps, or connect with your health devices, and aggregate all that data in one place for a complete collection of health data. Startups like RunKeeper are creating Health Graphs and releasing APls to do that very thing, and FitBit has now joined the gang too.
It won’t be long before mobile devices change the way that we communicate with our doctors, as physicians may describe treatments or procedures to patients on an iPad using multimedia, visual cues, genomic/anatomical maps, etc.; even prescribe post-treatment apps to our smartphones to assure that treatment will continue once you leave the hospital, or become a conduit for modern communication platforms that will facilitate remote checkups, treatments, diagnostics, etc over the phone or video.
There’s also Happtique, a startup which brings mobile app stores to healthcare professionals. What that means is that it offers hospitals, physician practices and more, the ability to create individually branded, secure, multi-platform app stores that support employees and doctor use, as well as supporting consumer or patient use outside the confines of the hospital. The field of development of mobile apps for hospitals and care providers is growing and will be a huge part of the future in healthcare.
The bottom line is this: we should be excited about the mobile health field, and how mobile technology is improving our daily lives. Innovative apps are being created every day by minds that can conceive and implement ideas we never even thought of and we’ll continue to see rapid progress for a long time to come.