The mobile revolution is transforming every segment of society, including health care. Five hundred million smartphone users are currently using a mobile health application, including health care professionals, patients, and consumers, according to research2guidance data. By 2020, this number will increase to 1.9 billion smartphone and tablet users, representing more than half of all mobile device users. This emerging “mHealth” market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 33.4 percent to reach $59.15 billion globally by 2020, MarketsandMarkets project. Here’s a look at some of the emerging mobile technologies medical professionals and patients are using that are reshaping the way health care is delivered.
One area where mobile technology is improving health care is the increasing availability of diagnostic apps. In 2014, mHealth apps accounted for 18.8 percent of the mHealth market, according to MarketsandMarkets. This included apps for general health and fitness, personal health records, women’s health, medication management and chronic care management. Diagnostic apps are another segment of this market. Isabel is a diagnostic assistance app for iOS and Android devices that has been peer-reviewed in dozens of medical journals, covering over 6,000 disease presentations and symptoms to help physicians double-check diagnoses.
To make building this type of app easier, Apple has developed the ResearchKit open source framework, which collects data volunteered by users of devices such as the iPhone 7 around the world to provide a supporting database. A parallel framework called CareKit has been developed to make personal care easier for consumers. One app that has emerged from these frameworks is the Autism & Beyond app, which uses the iPhone’s camera capability to analyze facial reactions in children to detect autism for early intervention. Capterra provides an overview of some of today’s other leading apps for medical professionals.
Another dynamic area of the mobile health care market is the use of medical wearables. This type of wearable application includes devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches, as well as other wrist devices, headbands, smart glasses, smart footwear, heart straps, posture monitors, pain management devices, wearable cameras, and wearable patches. The market for these types of devices will grow from 2.5 million shipments in 2016 to 97.6 million by 2021 when it will represent $17.8 billion in annual revenue, Tractica projects.
One ultra high-tech application of wearables is the combination of these devices with nanotechnology. Google has been working to develop a nano pill that works in coordination with wearable technology to detect cancer. The pill contains particles coated with a substance that will attach to cancerous cells, enabling them to send a signal back to an accompanying mobile device used as a monitor.
Remote Patient Monitoring
Patient monitoring is another area where mobile technology is transforming medicine, promoting the growth of telemedicine, a market projected by Research and Markets to grow from $17.9 billion in 2015 to $40.9 billion by 2021. This is especially useful for those who live more than 40 minutes from specialty medical centers, which they tested out in Mississippi.
To better serve this geographically dispersed population, the University of Mississippi’s Medical Center has developed a 141-patient pilot telemedicine pilot program that uses remote video visits. Patients in the program receive tablets and connected devices. They check in with the tablet once daily, take readings of their vital signs, and receive an educational session. Physicians get in touch if vital signs fall below a certain level or patients fail to check in. As a result of the program, medical adherence grew from 60 to 96 percent, and nine cases of diabetic retinopathy were detected that otherwise would have been missed. Programs such as this demonstrate how mobile technology is making health care delivery more efficient and effective.
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