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  • Writer's pictureMason Inc.

Mobile healthcare experiences growing pains

Full of promise, mobile health still needs to wow patients and nail down its payoff.

So says the MIT Technology Review in its article, Mobile Health’s Growing Pains. The article notes that healthcare technologists, administrators and doctors are excited about digital and mobile healthcare. Why? Because “the increasing number of smartphones means that small, inexpensive sensors, low-energy Bluetooth, and analytic software make it possible for patients and doctors to capture all kinds of data to improve care. Patients can play a more active role in their own health. Doctors and nurses can make house calls without ever leaving the office.”

There is only one problem. Patients don’t seem to give a damn about it at this point.

According to the article “though one in 10 Americans owns the type of tracking device made by Nike, Fitbit, and Jawbone to monitor steps taken, quality of sleep, or calorie intake, more than half of those devices are no longer in use, … Of the 100,000-plus mobile health applications available for smartphones, very few have been downloaded even 500 times. More than two-thirds of people who downloaded one have stopped using it…”

It is self-evident there is an ease of use issue here. In truth, the technology is not fully developed yet. And there may be privacy concerns as well. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s iWatch will impact mobile health. Will it have the same effects that the iPhone had on everything else mobile? Once the technology develops, the benefits to patients will be enormous. But first the marketplace must establish a set of winners.

Of course, communicating with healthcare providers will be easier. But one thing is more important. The holy grail of getting patients to engage in correct behaviors can begin. Things like exercising, eating the appropriate food and getting enough sleep. The motivational aspects of the technology are quite encouraging.

In any event digital healthcare is here to stay.

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