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Gadgets and Apps Driving Medical Care - A Review

Some targeting individuals in their own health management and some, healthcare providers by large. It has generated a new wave of expectations among U.S. physicians and also the ever-expanding consumer market. Going the “Wild West”Five years ago, it was a totally different world altogether. Today there are 40,000 medical applications available for download on smartphones and tablets. Providers have started adopting tablets, smartphones and applications to improve their margins. According to a recent article in Kaiser Health News (KHN), “the market is something of an unregulated Wild West; for doctors and patients alike and it is difficult to know which apps actually live up to their health claims or provide accurate information.” What the Future HoldsThe medical app market is worth about $718 million and is expected to double by the end of the year, according to Research2Guidance, a global mobile research group. Another healthcare market research publisher, Kalorama Information finds that the mobile medical apps market worth $150 million in 2011 is likely to grow 25% annually over the next five years although part of the revenue growth is expected to be driven by prices rather than volume. The report attributes this growth mainly to conversion of major healthcare organizations to EMR systems.In the coming days we will see more and more Mobile health applications managing health and healthcare. That calls for careful implementation of regulatory standards as quickly as possible. FDA expects to release final guidelines on mobile health apps this year. “FDA guidelines are very important to safeguard patients’ interest despite the delay it can cause to tech developments,” says Jenny Gold, staff writer of KHN quoting Alain Labrique who directs a global project on mobile health technology at Johns Hopkins University.With regulatory standards in place, quality of clinical trials would improve and establishing standards early on in its development and adoption will help safeguard it from the dangers of technology proliferation. “FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through regulation and supervision of medical devices,” says David Lee Scher, consultant and owner/director at DLS Healthcare Consulting, LLC. However, it needs to curtail procedural faults while taking part in this growth story as a regulatory body, he adds. Word of CautionThe market for Mobile medical app is growing and will continue to grow quickly. There will be commercial interests and tendency to capitalize on the immediate financial gains on the part of industry and business. Companies with innovative technology have already seen the opportunity lying ahead and are in the process of launching applications that can increase their revenues. However, that should not blur the view of consumers from adopting an application that actually do some good and are actually needed, warns Albert Shar, vice president and program officer for the Pioneer Portfolio at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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