Mobile health technologies are growing apace

By Catherine Sturman
The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly digital, with growing access to healthcare services through mobile technologies and healthcare apps. I...

The healthcare industry is becoming increasingly digital, with growing access to healthcare services through mobile technologies and healthcare apps.

It is clear to see that the need for digitization in healthcare continues to grow worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration has also recently posted a new job advert for its Digital Health Team, highlighting a growing healthcare market to support new and emerging tools and applications.

With the use of mobile technologies and smart devices, users have been granted increased control surrounding the management of their healthcare, which as become aligned with a growing expectation for patient centered care which is personalised and of high quality. This is therefore supported through the use of advanced data analytics.

Providers are also able to embed essential information surrounding the maintenance of patient records and drive further engagement through these services.

It is common practice for patients to Google their symptoms through the use of mobile technologies, book GP appointments and look for further health information through internet services. However, there is a growing need to find ways in which to support a growing digital health industry, which will see this traditional industry become an attractive (and lucrative) market.

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Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have all been key players supporting the development of health start-ups. Examples are Apple’s partnership with Cochlear Ltd in the development of cochlear implants which are fully compatible with Apple products, as well continuing to provide health wearables, such as smartwatches. Amazon is keeping quiet about its focus on healthcare, but is selling healthcare products online, whilst Facebook continues to invest in essential research and development facilities.

Google has realised its role in supporting the search for healthcare symptoms, and has recently developed a tool in which to support those with clinical depression.  Additionally, a fertility app has been created, and drones are helping in the delivery of blood across rural Africa, all of which are utilised through mobile apps.

Such innovation is leading to increased competition, where companies are seeing the need to create new ways of working and develop key mobile technologies to drive further growth. It has recently been revealed that Fosun Pharmaceutical aims to expand its presence within one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical markets, producing drugs at low cost, with high quality results. 

With strong movement in the US and China, the UK is also seeing a greater push in digitisation and the centralisation of data through new technologies. It is believed that UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is set to announce that by 2018, UK patients will gain access to their health records, have the ability to book GP appointments and prescriptions, and effectively manage their health through one central, digital platform.

This will no doubt be a warmly welcomed by patients in the UK, but will cause consternation with health professionals. Utilising systems which have been deemed highly sensitive and private through traditional services, such information has only been previously shared only between health professionals.

There will therefore be a dramatic shift in the way in which healthcare is perceived and delivered, and give patients greater control over their healthcare needs. In order to test such technologies, pilot mobile applications are currently underway.

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