Archive for Smartphones

“Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a smartphone app.”

Star Trek had it right, I think. While Doctor McCoy certainly relied on his trusty Tricorder to help him diagnose his patients (at least his human ones), he then used his training and experience as a physician to apply treatment. And this is happening in the year 2266.

In the same way, I don’t think mobile health applications are going to diminish the role of physicians any time soon. On the contrary, I believe that, once market conditions evolve to where industry leaders are clearly established and their technologies widely accepted, physicians will be able to do their jobs more effectively than ever before. Here’s why:

First, there’s the “Tricorder effect.” Everyone knows how unreliable human recollection and reporting is, even when it comes to things as important as diet, exercise, medication and monitoring vital signs. Mobile health devices, when used properly, don’t forget (or lie) and therefore provide the physician with a realistic set of data from which to evaluate patient status. In addition, mobile health technology will suggest diagnoses and treatment and therefore expand the physician’s knowledge and treatment choices.

Second is the reapportionment of a clinician’s time. Mobile health can cut down on time-consuming patient office visits, without diminishing the level of care. And with quicker access to more accurate patient data, a doctor can expediently determine treatment and therefore may be able to accommodate more patients – a huge plus everywhere, but especially in areas with a shortage of physicians. These increased efficiencies will also have a profound effect on the roles of other healthcare professionals.

Mobile health is presenting us with new tools. We will continue to rely on physicians for their skill in how to use these new tools.


Posted in: Digital Health, Health 2.0, Healthcare Marketing, Marketing Medical Devices, Medical Device Marketing, Medical Devices, mHealth, Smartphones, Wellness

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The best $100k anyone has spent on mobile health?

In the old story of the Tower of Babel, the people constructing a tower to the sky were stymied by a curse that made each of them speak a different language. Their inability to communicate effectively derailed the project. (And, according to some legends, explains why there are different languages in the world.)

Today, the field of mobile health applications is experiencing a similar curse. While there are zillions of applications, there is a pronounced lack of integration between them. Experts concede that while there are many innovative and useful technologies that have been and are being developed, their inability to “talk” to one another stands in the way of realizing the tremendous synergy that can come from compatibility and easy interactivity.

In an effort to encourage mobile health developers to “speak the same language,” the Heritage Provider Network, partnering with UCLA, is sponsoring a $100,000 challenge. What distinguishes this challenge is that submissions must use the open software developed by the non-profit company Open mHealth.

Rather than hindering innovation, broad agreement on

program integration was spectacularly successful

By encouraging use of open architecture software, Heritage Provider Network is hoping new applications will make it much easier for patients (especially those with multiple conditions) to record data and share it with their caregivers.

I certainly applaud this effort. I’m old enough to remember how much time I wasted with my first computer systems, hassling with “Mac vs PC” incompatibilities or Excel/Lotus and MSWord/WordPerfect conflicts. The benefits of compatibility eventually (for the most part) overcame developers’ concerns about exclusivity. Rather than hindering innovation, broad agreement on program integration was spectacularly successful in advancing the pace and efficiency of technology and was good for the market in general.

The winners of the challenge will be announced at the Health Datapalooza, being held in June in Washington D.C. It could be the best $100,000 anyone has spent on advancing mobile health initiatives.



Posted in: Digital Health, Healthcare Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Medical Devices, Medical Device Marketing, Medical Devices, mHealth, Patients as Healthcare Consumers, Smartphones

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