Why Smartphones May Be the Best Business Opportunity in Healthcare
Pathologists take note: 80% of physicians will be using mobile technology by 2012
Meet “mHealth!” That’s the new term to describe how mobile devices are used in the delivery of healthcare to patients. Many clinical laboratories and pathology groups already have laboratory informatics solutions that support how their client physicians use mHealth solutions in patient care.
Experts predict that Smartphones will dominate mobile healthcare (mHealth) in just a few short years. The enabling tools will be mobile applications (apps) that monitor such conditions as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease and asthma. Smart phones will also be used to order medical laboratory tests and access clinical laboratory test data.
Pathologists and clinical laboratories considering investing in Smartphones and other mobile devices will be interested in the results of recent survey that show a marked increase in the number of Smartphone purchases just since last year. Of even greater interest are the significant reasons why physicians say they want to use them.
mHealth Is a Rapidly Maturing Market
Some 231 healthcare companies covering the entire industry participated in the survey. The survey results were published in a 20-page report, titled “Global mHealth Market Report 2010-2015.” They included:
- Roche (Diagnostic Division)
- Catholic Healthcare West
- iLabs Medical
- Johns Hopkins Public Health
- UnitedHealth Group
- Bayer Healthcare Diabetes Care
- Siemens AG
- National Institute of Health
- Australian Federal Department of Health
Mobile research specialists research2guidance conducted the survey, which yielded some interesting results. According to the Berlin, Germany-based researchers:
- “Nearly 80% of respondents see diabetes as the therapeutic area with the highest business potential,”
- “Almost 70% of survey participants agree that app developers and agencies will be the main players in the market,”
- “Smartphone penetration is seen as the main driver for mHealth by 63% of respondents,”
- “Lack of standardization (50%), regulation (49%) and market transparency (49%) are the main barriers facing mHealth,”
- “Doctors and hospitals are seen as the best distribution channel for mHealth apps by 2015,”
- “Android and iOS will be preferred mobile platforms for mHealth solutions.”
Multiple Surveys Reach Similar Conclusions about Use of Mobile Devices
Last year’s survey conducted by Manhattan Research, which Dark Daily reported in “Pathology Groups and Clinical Labs Prepare to Deliver Test Results to Smart Phones” found that physician usage of the Internet and mobile healthcare devices is “maturing” and that by 2012, more than 80% of physicians will be performing “complex functions” such as clinical and administrative duties, online rather than offline, and that professionals’ social networking sites will become a strong resource of content and services for physicians.
In addition, according to an issue brief published by Washington, D.C.-based Deloitte Center for Health Solution, titled “The Mobile Personal Health Record: Technology-enabled self-care,” mobile apps are being developed that enable healthcare consumers who use Smartphones and other mobile technologies to practice “self-care,” and truly collaborate with their physicians in their treatment and monitoring of chronic diseases, such as diabetes. The results of these “self-exams” would almost certainly need to be sent and received electronically by a pathologist to be examined and diagnosed.
Clinical Laboratory Test Orders and Laboratory Test Data Reports
Since as far back as 2007, Dark Daily has covered the growing number of physicians, clinical laboratories, anatomic pathology groups, and healthcare organizations using mobile handheld technology in healthcare. Since then, vendors, healthcare organizations and research groups have conducted numerous studies to find what advantages, if any, healthcare providers would have using mobile devices to augment their diagnostic skills at the point of care (POC).
The conclusion most often reached, and one the federal government embraced by providing $25.8 billion in funds to promote health information technology (HIT), including wireless technologies, in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is that mobile technologies can greatly improve patient safety by making physician diagnoses more accurate, as well as lowering the cost of healthcare by increasing the rate of appropriate lab tests ordered and performed.
All this reinforces the urgency that clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups should embrace mobile technology now, so they will be viable resources for those physicians who will soon rely on mobile technology to provide the best care—and that includes ordering clinical laboratory tests and viewing lab test data from their Smartphones and other mobile devices.