Mobile Health: The Role of Mobile Apps in Medicine
September 24, 2014

The way we do life has changed as we move closer in sync with our mobile devices – and the same is true when it comes to healthcare. For years the healthcare industry avoided going online for the protection of patient medical records, but continued advances in security have allowed information regarding a person’s health to be available online and mobile.

Now the newest changes are coming in the form of what we love the most – mobile apps. Big advances in this space are quickly coming, and have the potential to change the way we do medicine in the States.

Self Tracking

Yes health monitoring apps have been available for years. Apps such as MapMyRun or MyFitnessPal serve as tracking applications for various aspects of users’ health. And the popularity of these apps are rampant, as they are currently the leading mobile apps in the health and fitness category. As user’s input data regarding daily activities, apps like these are powerful for users to track their progress in diet and fitness, assisting their ability to stay in shape, get in shape or even meet weight loss goals.

What IS that?

Have you ever looked at a foreign disfiguration on your body and wondered in alarm, “That’s new. What the h*** is that?!” Regardless of your novice or expertise in diagnosis, it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion.

That’s one of the new areas mobile is helping to serve the medical industry – assisting with diagnosis on a case-by-case basis. For example, the battle against skin cancer is one that can sneak up on unsuspecting sunbathers if not monitored. SkinVision provides analysis and tracking for moles that may be of concern. The patient simply takes a snapshot with their mobile device of the curious formation and uploads to the database. The app conducts a mole assessment in seconds, an analysis algorithm intended to detect whether or not the formation is cancerous and worthy of concern.

Through the same vein, even more complex analysis can be done through medical devices built specifically for the medical field. EmergeDX is one such company pioneering this effort, first by building a device able to evaluate numerous medically accepted tests such as EMG (electromyography), range of motion testing, and functional capacity evaluations. Sensors are placed on the injured area to measure muscle response to tests. The powerful purpose of this is to help determine cause of injury and assist with treatment recommendations.

Sophisticated Monitoring

Patients and/or medical dummies aren’t the only ones who benefit from mobile technology advances. Doctors are beginning to use varied mobile apps to diagnose or measure patients’ health.

A proponent of mobile medical apps, cardiologist and Professor of Genomics at the Scripps Research Institute, Eric Topol in San Diego has stated apps can be extremely valuable. He noted that by monitoring blood pressure or glucose rates, patients and doctors can keep these conditions in check and possibly avoid the need for costly medicine.

In fact in two separate cases, both in airplanes, Topol used an iPhone app along with a heart monitor to diagnose persons suspected of having heart problems. One woman was found to have atrial fibrillation. In the other case, a man was having a heart attack and the plane was diverted so he could receive immediate treatment.

Through a similar vein, Dr. Sara Browne and her team at UC San Diego’s School of Medicine are utilizing technology to remotely track TB treatments. The technology includes ingestible sensors which record the time medication was ingested. By transmitting the data to a wearable sensor in a patch worn on the patient’s torso, medical professionals are able to collect activity and rest patterns. The patch sends the information to a secure mobile application for further analysis.

Are We Relying on Robots?

Further implications of technological progression like this is exciting for those in and out of the medical community. Yet in most cases mobile applications developed for healthcare monitoring is not intended to replace doctors or regular in-person checkups. Rather, medical mobile app development is intended to compliment the patient-doctor relationship. They do so by informing patients when and if they should be of concern as well as provides preliminary education. Mobile apps also provide doctors with more sophisticated data regarding the patient’s health, which can aid in eventual diagnosis and treatment.

Want to learn more? Interested in how Barefoot can help with your medical mobile app idea? We have the experience and the portfolio in this space we excel in – send us a message and let’s get started.

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