From glow caps to cell scopes, mobile health future is near
The future is getting closer for emerging mobile technologies to take a critical role in engaging consumers to make better health decisions, and in equipping providers with tools to obtain more data from their patients to improve outcomes.
Two early examples are contact lenses that can send and receive data, and vital signs sensors capable of continuously monitoring the wearer.
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A “super” convergence of technology and market trends is opening up new ways to coordinate care and manage personal health, said Mike Wisz, a health IT consultant.
“Clinical workflows will be impacted by changing care delivery that becomes more preventive. The basic idea is to keep patients out of the hospital,” he said at a recent HIMSS online briefing. “We’re going to see more pieces deployed, used, worn, ingested and implanted, and it’s going to be a data tsunami."
The flood of mobile health technologies and devices can be viewed as an eco-system. Sensors and other medical devices that measure person-specific information may be attached to or embedded within the body or work within the person’s home. Many emerging software applications also run on mobile or Web-based platforms for use by the patient.
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Platforms are emerging that offer easier ways to communicate the patient’s information from all these devices and applications through gateways, which can include home health hubs, mobile phones and other machine-to-machine devices, said Wisz. They deliver information to the cloud, where systems may aggregate the data for physicians to access and use.
Some providers are testing or adopting remote patient monitoring systems but hurdles persist, such as who pays for the technology, concerns about privacy and security, and the fact that providers are already busy with meaningful use and other mandated changes, he said.
Mobile product designers are moving beyond touch screens and multi-touch interfaces to experiment with new forms and systems, like Google glasses for “third eye” capability, said Rob Campbell, CEO of Voalte Inc., a provider of mobile clinical communications technologies.
Wearable computing will likely deliver ways to manage information and interact with the world. “For example, personal see-through devices could overlay computer-generated visual information on the real world in real time allowing immediate hands-free access to information,” he said.