Cellphones have become absolutely ubiquitous in our everyday lives. In just a couple decades, they have completely transformed the way we communicate with each other, receive information and do business. Now, cellphones are set to revolutionize yet another important facet of our lives – healthcare. In fact, they have been slowly changing this industry for quite a while now.
The advent of smartphones made it possible to develop and integrate various applications across diverse demographics. And with over 64% of American adults owning a smartphone, these applications are able to gather huge sets of data that can be used in medical research. Medical research agencies award hundreds of grants each year to mobile phone related research that seems to be growing exponentially.
According to Research2Guidance, today there are more than 100,000 mobile health apps available in app stores around the world, with over four million free downloads every day. One of such health apps is the new Apple ResearchKit, which allows users to participate in medical studies remotely via their smartphones. As of now, the ResearchKit offers five different apps, each dedicated to a different disease, including breast cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and Parkinson’s. Participants can complete various tests, such as dexterity tests, gait assessments and more using nothing but a smartphone.
This is what Dr. Christopher Asandra, Founder and Chief Medical Officer of NuMale Medical Center and an experienced emergency room physician, had to say about Apple’s latest health app in a recent article:
“The ResearchKit is a very interesting idea. For simple tests, it could be truly revolutionary, but it really depends on how regularly researchers can get people to participate in tests, and what they do with the data they collect.”
Physicians are using mobile apps as a valuable tool supplementing professional medical equipment. Advances in mobile sensors have greatly expanded the ability to identify potential health problems remotely. Mobile apps can provide physicians with information about a patient’s particular characteristics, including his or her habits, likes, and dislikes.
All this also raises a number of important concerns and questions about privacy and data collection that will have to be sorted out as the industry develops further. One thing is certain, however, mobile healthcare will allow for a more personalized approach to each patient’s needs, and provide physicians with a lot more information to better address a particular health problem.