Throughout the years people have been chasing after key trends in technological development. In recent years, the advent of the smart phones industry is one of the spotlight trends of the digital world that bring many useful innovations along with it by releasing beneficial applications. ‘More than 114 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in July 2012, up 7% versus April 2012’, (comScore, September 4, 2012). Social media become more dominant to shape our socio-cultural environment by affecting our way of thinking, behaving, marketing, and even interacting with each other. We are already addicted and accustomed to live with them. While we are willing to use and adapt these useful applications which make our lives easier, they appeal as varied as the number of mobile operators, producers and new comers’ interest and make them more courageous to enter new areas like medical industry. Ideas such as the rise of mobile consumption of health products lead producers to support digital health initiatives today. According to Manhattan Research, increasing demand of the mobile phones for health information and tools grew from 61 million in 2011 to 75 million this year.
Over the past years, tablet usage to access health information and tools are doubled (Mobihealthnews – Oct 2, 2012). Appscription (“application” + “prescription”) is a new concept about medical industry. It provides consumers to track, manage, monitor and improve their health by using their mobile apps. (Popsop, 6 December, 2012) Smartphone Apps are obviously created to ease our lives and intends to facilitate to track daily routine health related issues such as monitoring blood pressure and sugar level, eating healthier meals, screen yourself for depression, finding out if you need glasses. Appscription is perhaps more consumer-minded than any others. (KaiserHealthNews, Jun 26, 2012)The advantage of these apps is not only encouraging patients to play an active role to track their health through mobile health apps that monitor vital information but also prevent costly events such as hospital readmissions. (InformationWeek, January 18, 2012)
In particularly in 2012, there are countless of new patient-centered healthcare apps are produced actively targeting consumers keen on preventing, examining, improving, monitoring and managing their health. Other positive implications for consumers tracking their own state of health include preventing unnecessary doctor appointments and provide much more convenient and accessible way for doctors to reach necessary information and outcomes about the patients those who really need medical attention and supervision (Trendwatching, DIY Health). ‘Medical tools may also help us improve health disparities by increasing patient access to health-improving treatments and interventions among the poor and uninsured’ (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, October 27, 2009).
Some of the services for smart phone are like Antibiotics Reminder app, which setting alerts to remind users to take their treatments and lets you track a program to completion, Skin Scan app which allows users to scan and monitor moles over time and tells users whether or not to need a dermatologist appointment (Trendwatching,DIY Health), Noom Weight Loss Coach app provides users personalized weight loss instructions and lets them to simply track activity and food intake (Mobihealthnews-Dec 21, 2012),and HealthDay app allows to personalize the specific health news among 700 diseases and conditions and 32 medical specialties that suits their needs (Health Day), and these are only a few of them.
Since doctors and physicians turn to health apps and services to improve health outcomes ‘Mobile operators continued to push into the territory of health IT vendors while health plans and others continued to lean on the mobile channel to better engage consumers.’ (MobiHealthNews- July 12, 2011). Furthermore, the interest of the health and fitness apps accelerates the producers to launch variety of apps. For instance; Apple’s App Store currently offers 9,000 mobile health apps which 1,500 are about cardio fitness apps, over 1,300 diet apps, over 1,000 stress, relaxation apps, and over 650 women’s health apps and by mid-2012, it is expected to reach 13,000 (Trendwatching, DIY Health).
Actually, these consumer-driven patient-centered healthcare applications provide links to health information, health tools, directories of local health services, and medical and health news. However, it shouldn’t be evaluated as substitutes of a doctor, for the need of diagnosis and answers to your personal health questions; you have to consult qualified health care providers.
As a conclusion, it is predictable that, mobile devices have an important potential to become powerful medical tool. These apps are custom-made to appeal to constantly busy or active smartphone users, who want to individualize information to manage his or her health or health care. Furthermore, after experiencing the facilities that mobile health apps provide, it will become more prevalent. As a result, the more consumers will demand for new apps, the more producers will create the consumer-driven apps which fit their needs. I believe that new digital health tools and interesting formats will arise in novel that lead us to catch up the most important developments in mobile health.
MobiHealthNews (July 12, 2011). Mobile Health Q2 2011 State of the industry. Available: http://mobihealthnews.com/research/quarterly-reports/state-of-the-industry-mobile-health-q2-2011/
Mobihealthnews, Brian Dolan (Oct 2, 2012). Twice as many use tablets for health tools, information. Available: http://mobihealthnews.com/18593/twice-as-many-use-tablets-for-health-tools-information/
MobiHealthNews, Jonah Comstock (Dec 21, 2012) Fitness app-maker Noom nabs $2.6M for Korean expansion. Available: http://mobihealthnews.com/19654/fitness-app-maker-noom-nabs-2-6m-for-korean-expansion/  comScore (September 4, 2012). July 2012 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share Available: http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2012/9/comScore_Reports_July_2012_US_Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share DIYHealth. DIY goes ‘good for you’ in 2012.