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More and more people get smartphones every day. It’s only natural, therefore, that they should play an increasingly important role in the mobile health sector. In fact, high-tech analysis firm Juniper Research reckons that some 3-million smartphone users will be using their devices for remote health monitoring by 2016.
The monitoring of cardiac outpatients is currently leading the field, the research firm says, largely driven by reimbursement from US insurers.
The management of other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) will play an increasingly important role in the market. One way doctors are already using mobile technology to monitor diabetes patients involves using a phone’s camera to perform remote dermatological tests.
Juniper Research also believes that mobile healthcare and medical app downloads are about to take off in a big way. The company predicts some 44-million downloads of such apps in 2012, rising to 142-million in 2016.
In emerging markets countries, however, basic mobile technologies like SMS are still vital to remote health monitoring.
A great example of this is the service built by the Praekelt Foundation that reminds HIV positive people when to take their medication.
One area with massive growth potential, says Juniper Research, is the use of smartphones for carrying and accessing of electronic health records (EHR). Although still in its infancy even in developed nations the research firm believes that in the long-term EHR will become an important component of M-Health offerings.
Juniper Research cautions, however, that “while remote patient monitoring is already showing both positive medical outcomes and cost savings over outpatient care, more trials would still benefit M-Health in order to further convince the medical establishment of its benefits”.