With smartphones, mobile apps and wirelessly connected devices, it’s easier than ever for consumers to become active participants in their own care and the healthcare process.
Consider the potential for mobile technology to deliver lower costs and better outcomes. Mobile apps and devices could help diagnose an illness, better manage chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions, flag early signs of trouble, allow recovery and rehabilitation to occur in the home, and create a virtual workforce of caregivers aligned around a patient.
Here are some recent developments in mobile healthcare technology:
- The FDA cleared 36 digital health devices in 2016, including a connected contact lens, Triggerfish, which helps physicians track the progress of glaucoma in patients.
- The global advanced patient-monitoring market was worth $35.2 billion in 2016.
In some cases, there is a blurring of lines between consumer mobile apps and regulated medical devices. One app recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows radiologists to view images on their smartphones, while another allows cardiologists to monitor patients for irregular heartbeats.
A looming deterrent to vendors developing such applications is determining which types of apps will require FDA approval. The FDA review process can be costly and time-consuming, requiring careful consideration of whether the approval effort is worthwhile. Yet apps that aid or simulate medical devices could have an incredibly powerful impact on quality and cost management for patients and providers alike.
Payers should monitor these trends closely and encourage hospitals and other point-of-care facilities to incorporate useful mobile tools for data collection and patient feedback into their care management processes. As the industry moves to risk-based reimbursement environments, these new tools could be a boon, providing quantifiable data over the continuum of care to support outcomes-based payment models.