Patients now have increased convenience and accessibility to manage their own health and medical records. Mobile Healthcare Applications will push this advantage even further in the coming years making healthcare just a touch away.
Mobile Healthcare Applications
The convenience of having access to emails, Facebook, and Google in the palm of your hand is something we have become accustomed to in recent years. So, why not apply that convenience to healthcare? Mobile healthcare applications are growing increasingly popular among healthcare providers as well as the general public. These apps enable patients to manage their own health and promote healthy lifestyles.
Such apps are beneficial in consolidating important medical information and making it readily available to all those who may need it:
• Diagnostic: Symptoms, related health conditions, and how they can be treated.
• Drug References: Various drugs, how they interact with one another, side effects, dosage, etc.
• Anatomy: Some apps provide detailed anatomical illustrations for reference during diagnosis or consultation
• Fitness: Keep track of food eaten, exercise activity, calories consumed and/or burned, etc.
Other apps allow patients to actively participate in their healthcare and physicians to monitor health conditions in non-clinical settings:
• Remote Access: Imaging results can be reviewed instantly regardless of where the physician is at the time.
• Heart Activity: Small monitors can be attached to smartphones to generate electrocardiograms.
• Blood/O2 Levels: Patients with sleep apnea can wear a fingertip sensor, which will wirelessly record blood-oxygen levels on their mobile device.
A December 2013 Health Policy Brief by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states that professionals expect the amount of mobile healthcare apps to increase by 25% yearly as developers and consumers alike continue to take advantage of the available technology. They believe that at least half of the 3.4 billion people who own mobile devices will download a medical app by 2018.
The FDA is focusing their efforts on regulating mobile health apps to ensure consumer safety and that the apps function as claimed. They issued a guide in September 2013 defining what they consider to be mobile applications and devices. The document details their intentions regarding regulation and offers examples of what qualifies, as well as regulatory requirements. They encourage developers to continue creating medical apps that will convey significant informative and preventative knowledge. Apps that are available for consumer-operation, such as those that provide reference information or track fitness, will not be FDA regulated.
Author: Apoorva Anupindi