Industry observers like myself have often painted the competitive mHealth landscape with a brush that wages computer manufacturer Dell and software behemoth Microsoft versus Apple--the reigning mobile healthcare champion. However, the real battle for the heart, mind and soul of the still-emerging mHealth market places Apple and search engine giant Google squarely in the commercial trenches.
Apple's iPhone and iPad have set the standard for other mobile devices in healthcare. Doctors, in particular, simply love their iPhones and iPads. But, now, the mHealth war between Apple and Google appears to be entering a new battlefield, namely wearable devices.
At the center of Apple's efforts in this area is its long-awaited iWatch, a wristwatch-like computing device with smartphone/tablet and health/activity tracking capabilities. Reportedly, iWatch includes a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data such as heart rate.
Apple is growing its team of medical sensor specialists by hiring some of the world's premiere experts in mobile medical technologies. Presumably, this expertise will be heavily leveraged by Apple in their development of the iWatch or some other device.
Simultaneously, Google has been working on its much-heralded Google Glass, high-tech glasses which contain a heads-up display, camera and a microphone, and can ostensibly support mobile health apps directly on the device. Google Glass, developed by the company's secretive Google X lab, has strong potential for healthcare, particularly in the ER where physicians could use the glasses to scroll through lab and radiology results and in the OR providing surgeons with hands-free access to critical clinical information.
In addition, earlier this month, Google unveiled its contact lenses, which use a tiny sensor and wireless transmitter, to monitor and measure glucose levels in tears, potentially replacing the self-administered blood tests from finger pricks that diabetics must endure on a daily basis. Not surprisingly, Google employees recently met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials at FDA headquarters who regulate eye devices.
Who will be first to market with these wearable devices--Apple or Google--remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that the two technology leaders with track records for building strong brands will no doubt dazzle the marketplace with innovative, leading-edge products that put sensor-based devices in the hands of consumers and medical professionals. That kind of competition in mHealth can only serve to benefit us all as this nascent industry moves forward
The medical industry is quickly adopting mobile technology as a means of connecting lay users with medical professionals. Increasingly, smartphone and tablet users are speaking to their doctors, scheduling medical appointments, and even receiving complex diagnoses via mHealth platforms.
mHealth makes it possible for consumers to receive personalized medical care that may otherwise be unavailable to these individuals.
In this article you can find cases that include some of the most successful mHealth developments to date.