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Healthcare Goes Mobile... and the FDA is Supportive

Last week the FDA approved an iPhone/iPad mobile app that allows physicians to review radiologic images with an appropriate quality for safe diagnosis on their mobile devices. This app allows for secure transmission of CT, MRI, PET, nuclear medicine, and PET images on the go; while adding measurement lines, annotations and highlight areas of interest. Mobile apps are the direction of the future, with manufacturers like Samsung projecting 60 million smartphone sales in 2011 and some top analysts projecting as many as 1 billion smartphone users worldwide by 2013. Let’s face it, the single most used tool in many people’s lives is their smartphone; I know I sleep with mine!

The simplified user interfaces and pre-integrated hardware such as high resolution cameras, two-way video camera lens’, speakers, GPS, microphone, and Bluetooth it’s a dream come true for developers with an open mind and a little creativity. Now apply these tools to the medical, health and wellness world and don’t forget the, ‘always connected’ nature of mobile devices and the, ‘I want service on-demand’ mentality of today’s consumers and we have a perfect medium for delivering less expensive healthcare access to a rapidly growing segment of the population.

I’m glad to see that the FDA is embracing the strengths of mobile medical technologies and by doing so encouraging industry and academia to push forward with novel innovations in this area. However, we’ll have to wait and see how the healthcare provider community responds to mobile technology. Although many providers, including: doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are eager to move their service offerings into the digital age, my experience is that they tend to be slower to adopt new technologies then some would imagine. I observed a good example the other night driving home and listening to ReachMD on Sirius Radio. The entire program centered on expert guests discussing the usefulness of social media in healthcare, with a final recommendation for providers to beware about being, ‘early adopters’ of potentially misunderstood technologies. I’m in agreement that in the light of potential liabilities, providers have to be alert when engaging new technologies; nevertheless, they should not be fearful.  

Being passionate about telehealth and healthcare IT, it’s exciting to partner with skilled healthcare providers who also recognize the power of being to deliver healthcare on-demand through mobile communication channels as early adopters.

P.S. watch for some exciting mobile app announcements from InteractiveMD in the near future.
-Ghen Sugimoto

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