The fast development of mobile technologies has expanded and sophisticated the workings of many industries and health care is no exception, with more than 50,000 health apps available. We explore the health apps currently out there and investigate the future of the health app market
Some of the popular health apps are fitness orientated and general health monitoring. They are easy tools for users to keep track of their weight, exercise activity and help them achieve their fitness goals.
Also many of them include blood pressure and blood glucose monitoring, which is one the more important necessity among many people. Users can conveniently test and check without going to a doctor or using an external device.
Currently, Samsung leads in this area with its S Health app, which is preloaded on the S3, S4 and the new S5. It’s a fitness and health hub, collecting and storing health related metrics such as your daily workout and fitness levels. It also measure calorie intake and amount of calorie burned, weight, blood glucose etc.
The recently released S5 comes with a new health addition, a built in heart rate monitor. The app also measures your comfort level by measuring the temperature and humidity of your surroundings. The data is then conveniently is displayed on charts and a health board.
S Health can also connect with other health management devices like blood-pressure monitor, wireless scale or Samsung’s gear watches and you can share your health information via email and social media services.
Samsung intends to continue developing health care technologies; the company recently announced the $50 million innovation fund, Samsung Digital Health Challenge, which will be used to develop products that according to Samsung’s executive, will “put individuals in the driver’s seat in understanding their own health and wellness,” They have already created software and hardware design with advancements that will aid the development of these heath orientated products.
According to a survey by Deloitte, “The health care and life sciences industry is recognized as one of the top three fields (along with consumer products and the financial services industry) likely to propel mobile device growth in the next five years.” Health apps started out with general fitness and weight management and have expanded to blood pressure, blood glucose measurement and heart rate monitoring and sleep monitoring.
Along with the growth of mobile apps, people’s demand for information and self-care, increasing health costs and increasing chronic illness have pushed and evidently, will continue to push the growth of health apps. More and more systems are being developed to particularly minimize visits to the doctor and healthcare costs.HealthTap is a clever and curated system that gives users online question and answer sessions with Doctors while Glow is an app that aims to help women get pregnant.
Although iPhone doesn’t have any built in apps, there are many healthcare apps available on App store. LoseIt! is a particularly popular weight management app because you can record food with a barcode scanner and it recommends users the amount of calories they should need to reach their goals.
As is the case for Samsung, Apple is also focusing on developing the healthcare mobile technology. One of the main new features of the iOS 8 that is soon to be released, will be the preinstalled app called “Health book”.
The app will not only track exercise activity, but intend to measure health vitals like blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and possibly other blood-related metrics such blood work, oxygen saturation and blood sugar tracking
Health apps are not limited to general services for users, but there are also more sophisticated apps that are used by doctors and hospitals to conduct more sophisticated measurements and diagnostics. The drchrono app provides doctors and hospitals with electronic health records system that is focused to the iPad interface. The app manages scheduling, patient reminders and billing system with many features.
There are other apps specifically designed for cardiologists, pediatricians, neurologists and other specialists. There is a category ‘Healthcare professional’ found in the medical category in the App store. An example is Neuro Toolkit that does a series of exercises to assess and diagnose strokes. A neurologist at Billings clinic says it’s common for physicians to be using not just this app. but many more for updated treated options and research. Doctors can access updated databases about drugs and diseases quickly and conveniently.
However, there have been concerns on whether these apps should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as is with for all medical devices. There is uncertainty whether the apps are or part of a medical device, particularly those communicating with devices.
The FDA assessed the potential of apps harming patients and then issued guidelines. They said that apps that instruct patients to change their drug dose based on readings would be likely regulated, while fitness and diet apps would most likely not. However there is some still some gray areas as to distinguishing apps into these categories. Whether proper regulations should be enforced is still in debate.
The use of health apps ranges from ordinary people for everyday activity to physicians and hospitals managing patient and making diagnoses. Clearly the health care app market is large. With Samsung, Apple and other companies like Intel putting focus into further developing health care mobile products it, it is expected to grow even more.