The Extravagant Promise of Mobile Health Apps

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

10 Cutting-edge Mobile Application Trends for 2012

Mobile applications will increasingly define the user experience on high-end devices.

Rising tides often are high before it is consciously recognized that they indeed are rising. In this way, what certainly will end up being a huge business-mobile health apps-has been evolving and slowly gathering momentum since the beginning of the smartphone era.

Indeed, the value and growth of mobile health is a bit of a no-brainer. Matt Berg -- the technology director of a mobile health program called ChildCount+ and the technology director of the Millennium Villages Project -- put it this way in a Q & A in The Atlantic:

I think we're going to increasingly turn to smartphone apps combined with smart meters, capable of measuring blood sugar, blood pressure, etc., to help monitor and manage our personal health. Mobile apps also provide a lot of exciting opportunities for the gamification of personal health.

The great potential of mobile health apps also are well described in this Bloomberg piece, which says that there is a "wave of new smartphone applications and attachments in the nascent mobile health market." Several graphics from the report are available at eMarketer.

The story cites research from the German firm research2guidance that suggests that 30 percent of the world's smartphone owners will use mobile health apps, a six-fold increase over the percentage today. The story offers a pretty compelling example of why this is happening: A top-of-the-line ultrasound machine can cost $100,000, while an attachment to a mobile phone from a company called Mobisante provides much of the same functionality for $7,495.

The year ahead may be important, the story says. The Federal Drug Administration is expected to issue guidelines on health devices and apps and how they will be regulated. That newfound certainty presumably will push the market.

Nothing comes for free, of course. Indeed, the upshot of this InformationWeek piece on mobile health apps is that their creation isn't easy. There are unique security and usability concerns. This review of AT&T's WellDoc Diabetes Manager-which is a very positive one-illustrates the challenges:

Developers must start with a penetrating analysis of the patient niche or clinician population they aim to serve. They need to get into the heads of their end users. If you're designing a mobile app for diabetics, for instance, it helps to have the disease or be a veteran endocrinologist who knows all the challenges patients with diabetes face day in and day out. Otherwise, it's essential to elicit the help of knowledgeable patients and clinicians.

Mobile health likely will represent a huge segment of the marketplace going forward. Developers and carriers should jump in, but only if they are willing to make the investment that allows them to do this very important job correctly.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.



Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.