Just because we have apps for smartphones doesn't mean we have real mobility in healthcare

App47 CEO and co-founder Chris Schroeder hosts a great podcast series called “What’s Appening!” in which he covers topics around enterprise-grade Mobile Application Management for securely deploying, managing, and analyzing business-critical mobile apps. Chris interviewed me for a recent episode in which we spoke at length about the management of enterprise healthcare apps, what mobility means in healthcare, and why technically-savvy clinicians are the only real salvation for the healthcare IT industry. The audio version of the podcast is available on the App47 site and is summarized below. 

Chris: Healthcare IT is seen to be continuously growing and gaining momentum in the deployment of mobile apps for enterprise use. How do you see healthcare IT taking advantage of mobile applications?

Shahid: Yes, you are absolutely right.  There are a whole lot of events going on in healthcare IT, especially related to mobile.  The majority of mobile apps that are out there today are more along the lines of informational content. For example, information on how to do more exercise, what you should do about diabetes etc. In those cases, it doesn’t really matter how enterprise mobility is handled because they are literally consumer directed and informational just like any other informational website.

However, there are two other big categories of health IT- based apps, especially the applications moving into the medical device arena. These are diagnostic applications and therapeutic applications. Example of a diagnostic application would be an app that takes a picture of a mole on your hand and gives a diagnosis of whether it is more than what it looks like.  Workflow-based applications are where actual therapy is administered. So on one side; you have one big block of educational and informational content, where very little enterprise management of mobile apps really matters and on the other side, you have diagnostic and therapy based applications where everything that you refer to around an enterprise, such as security and manageability, starts to matter a whole lot.

What’s happening in the diagnostic and therapeutic space is that today’s mobile app developers don’t really know whether their apps are therapeutic, diagnostic or content-based. They don’t know if they would need to make the apps trackable or the kind of testing that would need to be applied on these apps. They are also uncertain as to what kind of security would need to be applied or how authentication would need to be done across multiple applications. All these kinds of concerns and issues are obviously the ones that App47 is going to help healthcare companies solve and manage better.

In the current space, there is confusion between what is mobile, like what is a mobile application and what does mobility in healthcare really mean. They are really not the same thing. They sound like they are very similar. Having a mobile app strategy now would be like having a “laptop app strategy” 10 years ago. Having had a laptop app strategy 10 years ago would seem just as silly. In the same manner, having a pure mobile app strategy would seem pretty silly 5 or 10 years from now.