An explosion of converging technologies and super trends in medical electronic products have roiled together over the past 2 years and shaped a disruptive combination for the medical industry call Mobile Health (mHealth). There is an old aerospace motto prevalent in that industries’ push to improve time-to-market and increase competitiveness “Faster, Better, Cheaper.” mHealth steps it up by adding “Connected” and “Convenient” to this trio making an extraordinarily challenging environment for the healthcare industry that is now thoroughly intertwined with the Mobile Application, AppCessory, Analytics and Wireless industries. Much like aerospace the healthcare industry and its myriad devices and processes was for decades moving at its own pace.
Today, the proliferation of medical devices and their applications (often controlled by mobile devices) are everywhere; in hospitals and clinics, in patients homes, on their phones and tablets and on their bodies as they work and play, making treating and diagnosing more expedient and stretching security of information systems to the limit. Some fields seemed immune to this influx, certain disciplines such as spinal surgeries, implantable devices, but in a short time it has become clear that this is not the case. Wireless communications and the Big Data Analytics performed on supercomputing cloud platforms have brought tremendous breakthroughs even here.
Medical Device Connectivity via wireless devices, sophisticated analytics and information security features are employed by an ever increasing number of medical devices. Studies indicate that 50% of people say this will improve health care, while 86% of physicians believe that these inter-connected devices and applications will become essential to physicians for management of health care over the next 5 years. As a matter of fact, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is scheduled to review a record number of mHealth apps in 2015 as companies answer to demand for more sophisticated mHealth devices.
Mobile technology is, as with so many other fields, defining the future of healthcare. Recent trends show decisively, that patients do not want to pay for this extra convenience. Therefore, companies that focus on reimbursement strategies of connecting the patient to the healthcare ecosystems will be creating these applications with a dual purpose, by providing the analytics and outcomes that are needed for caregivers to get paid. Companies who are on board early are aware that it is this type of innovation that allows them to stay in the game and they will take market share from those who lag behind in adopting it.
In 2015 privacy will yield to accessibility as patients embrace the myriad of digital devices and their services emerging on the market. Gamification, and do-it-yourself tools will be what keeps them motivated and engaged; improving one dull and typically less controllable point in health care programs, patient compliance. Reimbursement models based upon the health information that these systems collect and analyze will begin to provide quantifiable data to support outcomes-based results. This will drive change as it begins to remove the physician from the feedback loop thereby driving change in this culture. As real, meaningful, useful and real-time data becomes available caregivers will relinquish control of certain aspect of care, but gain tremendous insight and decision-supporting information.
Connected and intuitive electronic devices prescribed by clinicians can accomplish so much when acting in concert to satisfy the public’s yearning for convenience that Qualcomm has created an X Prize competition of its own to usher this era in. The 10 million dollar “Tricorder” prize will undergo consumer testing, in 2015 and final judging in early 2016.
The devices are expected to accurately diagnose 16 health conditions – 13 required core conditions and a choice of three elective conditions – in addition to capturing five real-time health vital signs, independent of a health care worker or facility, and in a way that provides a compelling consumer experience.”
The next audacious dare will be not only seamless, streaming secure and HIPAA-compliant data from these colossally capable devices, but genuine interactive systems. Once systems are truly interactive a more complete well-rounded suite of care models that address core issues affecting outcomes and management of chronic health can be developed to better manage high-expense conditions in much lower-cost locations.
Finally, in just 15 years Millennials, the generation shaped by the internet revolution will make up 75% of the work force. Millennials value technologies that deliver personalized experiences, real-time feedback, flexibility, and convenience. They are using mobile technologies to create communities of personalized support, to socialize and interact with the world. Their impact is driving companies to reconsider how to accomplish these advances in the New Health Economy.