Sunday, January 9, 2011

Smartphones emerge in new health care role.

When the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle approached me to contribute an article on emerging healthcare trends in their "Speaking Out" edit page today focused on Health Care, I decided to write about something which I had alluded to in an earlier blogpost on this blog: Good bye Doctor! Hello Smart Phone!

Here's the article as it appeared in the paper today:

Smartphones emerge in new health care role.

Deepak Seth • Guest essayist • January 9, 2011

Move out of the way, Doctor! Just when you thought rising liability insurance costs and declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements were your biggest worries, you have a new one emerging on the horizon — the evolution of the smartphone into a primary care physician.

The scenario is not as farfetched as it sounds. A recent survey by Pew on the adoption rate of mobile health ("mHealth") applications found that a full 9 percent of American mobile phone users said they have mobile health apps on their phones that enable them to "track" or "manage" their health. Other studies predict that more than a third of 1.4 billion smartphone users in 2015 will be running some kind of mobile health care application.

Smartphone and other mobile health care apps include those for diabetes and other chronic diseases' management, and hospital-based Radio Frequency Identification.

Smartphone health care apps seem set to emerge as a differentiator in the increasingly competitive health care marketplace as health care players such as insurance and pharmaceutical companies queue to launch their own apps or co-branded apps as promotional tools or potential revenue streams.

Joining the bandwagon are telecom and technology companies that will attempt to get into the health care sector now that they have a foot in the door through their control of the newly emerging health care delivery platform — the smartphone. Opportunities may exist for health care players to work out collaborative agreements with telecom players to leverage each other's strengths.

Doctor, no reason, though, to lose heart yet. Nearly half of smartphone and mHealth applications are designed for health care providers aiming at improving their effectiveness and efficiency in areas such as continued medical education programs, health care management and remote monitoring applications.

Seth, of Brighton, is an information technology and business intelligence expert.

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