Smartphones, tablets seen boosting mobile health

The spread of wireless Internet devices could shake up mobile health care

Smartphones, tablet PCs and other wireless devices are poised to play a greater role in health care as doctors and patients embrace the mobile Internet, panelists at a mobile health technology conference in Boston said Thursday.

A study from Manhattan Research found that 71 percent of physicians consider a smartphone essential to their practice and 84 percent said that the Internet is critical to their jobs.

"Physicians are opportunistic in finding ways to improve efficiency," said Monique Levy, a senior director with Manhattan Research. Smartphones allow doctors to check e-mail, use mobile applications and surf the Web, and also lead to collaboration between physicians and patients, she said at the World Congress' Summit on mHealth.

Doctors can use a device like a tablet to pull up patient information during a consultation, then use it to show a patient how disease spreads or how curvature of the spine occurs. It may be easier to share information with patients in this way than sitting in front of a PC.

The use of mobile devices in health care has expanded in the past five years and will continue to grow as U.S. smartphone use increases, said Harry Wang, director of mobile and health research at Park Associates. By 2015 more than 70 percent of people in the U.S. will own a smartphone, according to a study by his firm.

Smartphones and health care intersect today in the area of applications, he said. His company's research found that the most commonly used mobile health applications are for fitness and workout programs, nutrition and gathering health news.

Future developments could allow patients to use their iPhones as glucose monitors, for example, he said. In fact, some hospitals are experimenting with such applications already.

People with sleeping disorders could use a wireless device to monitor their sleep patterns and transmit data to their doctors over a wireless LAN. This would lead to health care savings since labs often charge US$1,200 for testing, and some home monitoring options cost $300, Wang said.

Using mobile technologies for critical care is still a developing market, however, Wang added.

Some obstacles need to be addressed before wireless health care moves forward, Wang said. He cited a lack of standards, the need for more safety regulations and the need for more marketing to both doctors and patients. The greatest challenge will be aligning the interests of stakeholders like health care providers, patients and hospitals, he said.

During a question-and-answer session, an attendee asked if wireless carriers can provide adequate bandwidth to make mobile health effective.

Levy said that while wireless health could involve a patient using a smartphone to hold a video conference with a nurse, consumers have demonstrated that they use technology for more basic health care needs.

"I don't think bandwidth will be a limiting factor," she said. "The Internet didn't revolutionize the way people take care of themselves. They use the Internet to look up information."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationhealth careindustry verticalsmobile

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?