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How Smartphones Are Changing Medicine?

Imagine a world where you can do your own physical checkup or monitor your heart, take your blood pressure and check for signs of disease, then…

WITHINGS_BPM_PRO-pour-iPhoneImagine a world where you can do your own physical checkup or monitor your heart, take your blood pressure and check for signs of disease, then remotely deliver the information to your general doctor who can decide if you need to come in to the office for more tests. A few startups are working to make that a reality, using your iPhone. Procedures that cost thousands in copayments and health insurance might now be reduced to you using specially designed apps and devices with your mobile device and sending the information to your physician. With over forty thousand medically related apps at the tips of your fingers, the future is now.

Medical apps started at first as information reference apps for doctors and hospitals. With their success, and the proliferation of tablets in medical centers, app creators and entrepreneurs saw the potential of having such powerful devices available in the hands of both doctors and patients. Most of these are still being developed, or are being approved by the FDA. By offering small add-ons such as meters for diabetics that plug into smartphones, these companies are able to offload most of the raw processing power needed by medical machines into a super powerful device that everyone already has. Simply put, you don’t need big medical machines anymore. You also don’t need experts to run the big expensive machines (each of which are made by different companies, further complicating their use) and most importantly, you don’t need to visit a medical center and take up a room. This has the potential to reduce medical costs in the United States dramatically. Factor in the added benefit of doctors being able to remotely monitor patients, and now you’ve saved everyone time and even more money. Healthcare reform indeed!

We believe that by the looks of the numbers and recent events, medical apps are already taking hold. With over 40,000 apps available for download, the medical app market is estimated to be worth a little more than $718 million. The use of medical apps has also been rapidly growing, with a projected usage at 500 million people by the year 2015.

The rapid proliferation of apps into medicine and health has prompted a response from the FDA, in an attempt to regulate apps that may impact the use of medical devices. FDA regulation, not only shows a mark being made by mobile apps, but further proof of greater involvement of apps in future medicine. This is to be expected as it has been reported that 62% of American doctors own a tablet. The FDA’s recent approval of Alivecor’s ECG monitor app is big step forward in the future of apps in medicine. The ECG monitor app works with a device that snaps onto your iPhone and transmits ECG recordings to your app when you touch the device and transmit the information to your doctor.

Alivecor’s approval by the FDA and the possible widespread use of its device, represents a future where instead of setting up an appointment, and going to the doctor’s office, we’ll just pick up our smartphones. Not only will this lower the cost of healthcare, but it will also prevent future health issues, which might lead to further medical costs down the road.

There is no doubt that we are at the cusp of the possibilities that Medical Apps will bring. FDA legitimation of Alivecor’s ECG monitor app is only the beginning, as others are sure to follow. With a rapidly growing medical app market, only time will tell if there will be sufficient regulation.

by Fignola Alexandre, Expert Content Writer at Fueled.

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