When you think of the advancement of medical technology in the last 100 years, most of the devices that come to mind are ones we associate with hospitals – MRI scanners, pacemakers, and dialysis machines, just to name a few. When future generations look back at the 21st century, could it be that the greatest of medical technologies might simply be a device most of us currently carry in our pocket?
Don’t let the fun apps and instant messages fool you! The smartphone is an amazingly powerful and portable piece of technology. Even more important, it’s accessibility is becoming more universal by the day. In March 2012, comScore released their 2012 Canada Digital Future in Focus Report which stated that the smartphone penetration rate had reached 45% of the mobile market, which is a double digit increase from the numbers in 2011.
With the dawn of apps came the creation of applications for health and wellness. What’s truly amazing is how versatile and numerous these apps have become. There are apps for medical professionals, apps for self-care and apps for health education.
Armed with Apple’s range of healthcare related apps, and websites like www.imedicalapps.com dedicated to mobile app listings in the field, today’s health provider is prepared to further the care of their clients in ways never thought possible a generation ago. Mobile technology is providing amazing advances for medical professionals and some of the most interesting developments are the ones that will be changing how we relate to our own care as individuals. Many of these groundbreaking changes are occurring right in our backyard here in Toronto.
At the University Health Network, developers are pushing forward the frontiers of self-care apps, helping people become less reliant on professional care and giving them more control in the care their own medical conditions. So far, UHN has created apps to help monitor blood sugar for diabetics as well as blood pressure for people suffering from hypertension. Systems like these that provide both monitoring and feedback have been proven across many tests to help patients improve their health results without medication.
Mobile applications aren’t limited to self-care though. One of the great ways that apps are helping with healthcare is in giving people access to the correct information about their general health, pre-existing medical conditions, and disease prevention. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recently released the “30 day Challenge” app, which helps people realize the true impact of their lifestyle choices on their future chance of acquiring heart disease and possibly suffering a heart attack (giving them a motivation to change).
One fascinating example of how to make use of the educational opportunities that health apps provide is an app called touchMS that’s been developed to provide accurate and helpful information on Multiple Sclerosis. There are an estimated 55,000-75,000 sufferers of MS in Canada. Rather than trying to create a generic product that could be sold all across North America, touchMS provides specific and relevant information on treatments and managing MS for Canadians.
So, the next time you have any questions or concerns about your health, reach for your smartphone. It might be more useful than you think! While I don’t believe smartphone apps will ever replace medical professionals, I do believe that they have the potential to make us all smarter and more efficient with our own self care, which will make for a far better experience in the medical system.
Want to talk more about the opportunities offered by smartphones and apps in healthcare? Sign up for our amazing panel event on October 24th. Register now before it’s too late!