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Mobile health is now

August 4, 2010

I love mobile technology and the possibilities it holds for health, both on the patient/caregiver side and physician/HCP side.  I’ll be writing more on the topic over the coming weeks and months (and hopefully I’ll actually stick to my new resolution to blog at least once a week ), but here are a few data points to set the stage:

  • Nearly 2/3 of U.S. physicians use a smartphone  for medical or clinical purposes according to both Google and Manhattan Research
  • 95% of physicians who use handheld devices/smartphones download applications to access medical information (SDI Research)
  • Wireless adoption within healthcare has grown over 60% in the past year (ABI Research)
  • The global market for handheld mobile devices in healthcare is forecast to grow to $8.8 billion in 2010, with patient monitoring devices accounting for about 2/3 of the total (Kalorama Research)

In short, the intersection between medicine/health and mobile is happening now.  Two of the best sources of information I have found to keep up on the trends are  Fierce Mobile Healthcare (the business side) and iMedicalApps (the clinical side).  Fierce Mobile is part of the Fierce empire (Fierce Biotech, Fierce Healthcare, Fierce Biotech, Fierce Bunny – oh maybe that one is in development) and provides a solid round-up of news in the space. iMedicalApps is a physician-led site where practicing doctors provide commentary and reviews of mobile medical technology and applications.  For people interested in understanding what is really valuable to a physician (vs. what agencies tell you is valuable), then the site is a must.

There are also conferences galore where you can explore the topic.  One that looks promising is the mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. in November.  I have no real insight on it but it appears to have top-quality speakers and  is well-priced (tickets below $500). I am beyond sick of attending $2000 conferences which are also funded by high-paying sponsors. Typically the content is so basic that I leave having learned nothing new, at least from the formal meeting.

Mobile health seems to hold so much promise that in late June  the venerable World Economic Forum convened its own mHealth Summit in San Diego. Paul Jacobs, CEO and Chairman of Qualcomm, and Chair, World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of Mobile Communications wrote, “With nearly 5 billion mobile phones in use, there is an unprecedented opportunity to leverage humanity’s most pervasive global platform to transform the health care sector and empower people to take charge of their own health. By helping to shape future policy and encourage innovation in this critical area, we can make a real contribution to human health, all over the world.” You can watch video of the conference and download proceedings.

Just last week (July 26 and 27) the FDA and FCC held a public meeting to initiate inter-departmental dialogue and coordination on the topic. With mobile health, the regulatory lines begin to blur. To their credit, the agencies are attempting to define the issues that they’ll need to address as the sector takes off.

So if you thought mobile health was the future, guess again.  Mobile health is now.

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