In our always-connected world we have everything at our fingertips, including the tools to make better healthcare decisions. There are countless consumer health apps available to better manage our health.Nielsen projected that half of the U.S. population would own a smartphone by the end of 2011, and one of the fastest growing age groups for smartphone adoption is 55 to 64 year olds. For developers of health apps, this insight helps guide which apps maybe most embraced. The substantial adoption of smartphone use among the medical community not only led to a burst of medical apps designed for healthcare providers, but it also nurtured the health and wellness apps aimed at empowering patients.
For example, Denver-based iTriage, founded by two emergency medicine physicians, offers consumers an app that helps answer the two most common medical questions: “What could be wrong?” and “Where should I go for treatment?” Having answers available to health questions or concerns at any time is not only convenient, but helps with ownership of our personal healthcare, and also improves healthcare delivery for providers and payers. Last year Healthagen, creator of the iTriage app, was acquired by Aetna. This purchase reveals that the healthcare ecosystem sees the value in mobile health apps to help consumers navigate the intricacies of the healthcare system and even health insurance.
There are more than 13,000 consumer health apps available today and according to a recent Deloitte survey reported by Mobihealthnews, healthcare is one of the most promising new growth channels for mobile apps. This week, our client, iSonea, launched a new smartphone app to better manage asthma. AsthmaSense, available for iPhone, iPad and Google Android, helps asthmatics track symptoms, medications and provides alerts when asthma is poorly managed.
Industry analysts say there’s a mobile opportunity for the world of Pharma too.
Look at an application called Helius from Proteus Biomedical of Redwood City, Calif. which was announced earlier this year and available for consumers to purchase in the U.K. The “smart” pill contains an edible microchip to monitor when medications have been taken, along with a range of additional patient data including sleep patterns and physical activity. Users swallow the tablet when they take their medication. When the tablet hits their stomach and breaks down, it sends a signal to the patch on their skin and alerts the app on their smartphone with the information.
With consumer health apps acting more like medical devices, the FDA is paying close attention. Last year the FDA proposed guidelines to translate medical device regulations into the world of apps, smartphones and tablets. With this increased transparency, the regulatory discussion will continue to be vital this year as more offerings become available. It is anticipated that the FDA will announce the final guidelines or a new draft by year-end. We will continue to monitor the FDA activity and provide commentary on ways the guidelines will shape the market.
“There’s an app for that” now describes a new way health information is delivered, and more importantly used by consumers– enabling the empowered patient. What health apps have you added to your device lately? Share your thoughts here and follow us on Twitter at @SchwartzMSLPRx for future conversations. Tags: Consumer healthcare apps, health care public relations, medical device, mhealth, mobile apps
Posted by Erin Zwirn on June 6, 2012 at 9:39 AM