A good chunk of medical healthcare could soon find its way to your mobile device. Mobile health is garnering a lot of attention from both tech entrepreneurs and investors alike. Just some of the things that are already available or soon-to-be available are smartphone apps that let you connect with a doctor who will show up at your house within hours, texting platforms that allow easy communication between patient and doctor, in-home remote health monitoring, web-based video conferencing, cloud-based image sharing between physicians and more.
Why Consumers Should Care
Unfortunately, the bulk of apps on the Apple’s iTunes store that target consumers don’t do much more than offer simple advice that could be easily be found elsewhere. Less than 200 of them have the ability to actually capture and track data that the consumer enters. Very few, less than 50, are designed to be used for managing treatments or giving consumers helpful tools to gather vital health data. The development of more intricate mobile health applications could lead to improved care, quicker care and even decrease the cost of healthcare.
Why Entrepreneurs Should Care
As mentioned above, there’s a big gaping hole in mobile healthare. There’s a huge opportunity for the right people if they can develop more in-depth, streamlined healthcare apps that can do more than just give consumers basic information. And there are a few projects that seem to be off to a good start of taking advantage of just that.
In fact, from 2013 to 2014 we seen a huge increase in the interest and investment in mobile health. Investors laid down billions of dollars for a range of hopeful mobile health startups. In the first three quarters of 2013 alone, over $5 billion went into funding digital health. (1)
Investors poured billions of dollars into health technology startups in 2014, fueling companies that plan to reshape everything from clinical trials to analytics to payment processes. Here are just a couple of the many digital and mobile healthcare startups that look promising and popular apps:
Pager – Pager lets you connect with a physician in your area for a housecall (Yes, a housecall!). The first visit is only $49 and they arrive within two hours. You could easily spend that much time or more in the ER, right? And you’d probably pay a lot more.
While Pager is only available to iPhone users right now, they’re planning on developing Android versions. It’s also only available in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but they’re planning on expanding to other areas too (you can sign up on their site to be notified when it’s available in your area).
League – Put together your own “league” of healthcare professionals that you choose. Have information on what you need when you need it, get personalized tips and recommendations for staying healthy, connect with providers of your choice, discover services that are personalized to your needs, schedule appointments and even pay for them all through the League. The league focuses on personalized, preventative healthcare instead of reactive healthcare.
Fitocracy Macros – This app, available on iTunes, helps people count not calories, but macronutrients (macros). Whether they simply want to get in better shape and build muscle or if they’re trying to lose weight, Fitocracy Macros can help. Getting enough of the right micros can get rid of the always-hungry feeling, produce more energy and zap irritability. (3)
SickWeather – Want to know if someone in the area has the flu? Want to know if a stomach virus is going around? There’s a good chance this app will let you know to help you avoid coming in contact with illnesses and viruses. It uses a patent-pending technology to gather information from social media and has won several awards, including Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies” and George Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services’ “Top 5 Sites Crowdsourcing for Your Health”. The Today Show featured this app when it was identified for discovering the early start of flu season in 2012 – a whole six weeks before the CDC did. (4)
Why Doctors and Healthcare Providers Should Care
The growth of smartphone and mobile device use, along with turning to apps for everyday activities, is driving the surge in mobile health. But it’s not just for consumer convenience.
Attracting Customers and Reducing No Shows – Another app that has been graciously adopted by consumers is ZocDoc. With this app, consumers can search for doctors in their area. But many apps do that. This one is different because there are reviews they can check and they can even schedule an appointment 24 hours a day and fill out digital intake forms ahead of time. Reviews can be important, if they aren’t tainted, because the chances of a consumer purchasing something after reading reviews on mobile devices are greatly increased. As for no shows, the app also sends reminders. They claim that over 600 million users are active each month.
Streamlining Care of Diabetes – WellDoc’s BlueStar Diabetes App is approved by the FDA for adults with type 2 diabetes. It helps patients self-manage the treatment plan designed by the physician through a number of ways. Users receive real-time educational, motivational and behavioral coaching. It provides patients healthy diet choices, appropriate exercise options and more to help manage diabetes outside of the doctor’s office and streamline care. (5)
Faster Diagnosis with Real Time Image Sharing and Collaboration – The ResolutionMD app lets doctors access reports and images from anywhere on a mobile device. They can securely view images and collaborate with other healthcare providers in real time to better diagnose problems. They can quickly pull up a patient’s complete image history to better understand what may be going on. A Mayo study revealed that by using ResolutionMD vs. a standard PACS workstation, physicians are able to access a stroke victim’s CT scans 24 percent faster. That equates to eleven minutes, which is important since every tick of the clock can make a big difference in patient recovery. (6)
Mobile health, particularly the app market, could grow into a $26 billion industry by 2017. Several areas are predicted to make the biggest marks on healthcare including improving the outcome of patient care, self-care and better patient/doctor interaction. (7)
Just how fast mobile healthcare grows will be largely dependent on how well consumers adopt it, though.