Mobile technology is experiencing a surge of advances in relation to the medical industry.
Technological advances once merely imagined in Sci-Fi flicks (think of Star Trek’s communicator, Bluetooth technologies, and even a quasi version of touch enabled computer screens) are being realized and even superseded thanks to modern innovation.
Mobile technology, in particular, is experiencing a surge of advances in relation to the medical industry. Research breakthroughs, advances in supporting technology infrastructure, and even substantial allocations of resources from private investors are realizing far reaching technological dreams, and then some.
Several weeks ago, Mike Lazaridis’ Research In Motion’s Blackberry Vice Chairman, (the maker of those once ubiquitous handheld wireless devices), launched a $97 million dollar Quantum Valley Investments fund to support innovation and entrepreneurs focused on creating non-invasive medical diagnostic equipment. The idea is simply to make “Star Trek’s” medical tricorder device for diagnosis a reality.
The push to go mobile has been years in the making and has, in many respects, been assisted by underlying communications technology and the utilization of what many in Silicon Valley have termed the social, mobile, web trifecta. Smartphones, applications, and social media have helped to drive mobile advancements in relation to consumer technology adoption, and impactful breakthroughs in medical technologies have been evolving as well.
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I can envision apps helping patients and families manage a medical care plan.
if I were asked “Why should a clinician prescribe an app?” I would answer as follows:
Because it’s likely to help the patient reach his or her most important health goals, and is a good fit within an over-arching medical management plan.
In other words, if the goal is to provide sensible medical assistance to patients and families, the use of an app should be likely to:
Help a patient work towards the most important medical goals.This means clinician and patient should’ve discussed goals overall, and prioritized which issues are most important for the time being. Since I take care of complex older patients, prioritizing issues is really a must, and then we can set certain goals for the issues we’ve decided to focus on.Be likely to provide benefit or otherwise be clinically useful.This doesn’t mean we always need peer-reviewed studies demonstrating that use of this particular app provided a health benefit.
But there should be some reason to believe using an app will be clinically useful.This could be because the app facilitates collection of data needed to revise the treatment plan, i.e. documents pain, incontinence, sleep patterns, as-needed medication use, etc.Or it could be that the app digitally guides patients through an intervention previously found to be beneficial, such as a home exercise plan.
As with the prescription of a drug, recommending an app should include guidance as to what benefit the patient can expect, as well as a plan for ensuring that the app is delivering benefit as expected.Be a good, feasible fit within an overall management plan.Just as I don’t prescribe a medication in isolation, without considering the patient’s other medical conditions and other prescriptions, I wouldn’t recommend an app in isolation.I find that most patients and families have only so much bandwidth available for daily healthcare management tasks.
So in considering an app I’d also try to be mindful of how many other apps have been recommended, and I’d try to work out an overall plan that was going to be manageable for the patient. After all, there is only so much futzingwith devices that one can do in a given day.
mHealth, the use of mobile devices for health services and information, is a hot topic in health care due to mobile technology’s ubiquity and versatility, and its potential to lower costs.
Reports out this week show that: 1) 93 percent of physicians think mHealth can improve patient care, and 2) the mHealth industry is forecasted to be worth $26 billion by 2017. As with most stats, both of these numbers must be taken with a grain of salt, but I think the larger message rings true: mHealth is growing quickly and proving its worth to patients and physicians alike.
This week, House subcommittees on Communications and Technology, Health and Oversight, and Investigations are holding hearings on health IT, with mHealth being the primary focus. Specifically, the subcommittees will hear testimony on the possible effects of Obamacare’s medical device tax on innovation and profits in the mobile industry.
Thomas Martin at mHIMSS blogs about what we are likely to expect from these hearings.
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