Monday, July 8, 2013

Healthcare Industry Finding More Uses For Mobile Technology and Apps

The following is a guest post:

Three years ago venture capitalists invested around $343 million into the healthcare IT field. Today that has tripled to over $955 million. This massive leap in investor interest illustrates the speed at which technology is evolving in the healthcare industry.

“All of these VCs are now starting to put money into the space," the cofounder of Massive Health, an app encouraging people to eat healthier, told Forbes. "And as we start getting some big wins, we’re going to see this accelerate...The smartest minds of our generation shouldn’t be working on getting us more addicted to Facebook or Twitter; they should be working on helping us get — and stay — healthy.”

Even the government is seeing the potential and is planning to budget $29 billion to provide incentives to urge hospitals to digitize all of their health records.

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But if healthcare professionals and institutions are paying attention, the benefits of the implementation of technology alone is incentive enough. Data analysis and artificial intelligence are becoming so advanced that doctors can input data and receive better diagnosis and treatment information.

IBM researchers have been working on developing a supercomputer that can offer diagnoses and treatment advice. This is the same supercomputer that won one million dollars on Jeopardy in February 2011.

Easier access to better and more data is only one of the many ways technology is enhancing the healthcare field. There is also the way technology is improving communication, as healthcare becomes more social.

One example of this advancement is the mobile app developed by Science Applications International Corporation that helps doctors and patients with a language barrier communicate with each other. Over 47 million United States residents can't speak English fluently, so social and mobile technology tools like this help reduce any potentially dangerous exchanges of misinformation.

Another social app that could be a potentially helpful tool for medical professionals is Doximity. It is an app specifically for physicians. It provides a collaborative platform for doctors all over the country to share and trade information and expertise that may be relevant to another doctor's case.

Some doctors can be resistant to adapting new technologies into their professional routines. But if some of the government funding marked for incentives went into basic training, it won't be long until residents are entering data into their unlocked gsm phones, and the phone becomes The Swiss Army knife of the medical profession.

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Additionally, there are many apps that help patients keep track of and maintain their health at home. Patients can record their heartbeat, blood pressure, and steps taken, and then present the information to their doctor.

There are also apps like Goal Sponsors, which helps people reach goals such as stopping smoking. The app accommodates any personal goal, but patients can use the app for health-centric personal objectives. It works by pairing people with “Sponsors” who keep them on track and motivated to reach their goals. The sponsors typically have some experience with the goal paired to them. For example, a sponsor paired to a mission to lose weight might be a personal trainer. This feature gives the user a point of reference and even someone they can come to for advice as well as motivation.

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