I just read an interesting article by Mitch Wagner @ Information Week HealthCare (link below), talking about a $100,000 grant made to a Princeton student to continue developing an iPhone app that serves diabetics.
Don't be surprised by the rapid acceptance of smart phones in healthcare. They are portable, powerful, and ubiquitous mobile platforms. Adoption in healthcare is just getting started: consider that more homes in the US have cell phones and internet access than they do land lines. This seemed obvious to the Princeton undergraduate, Matthew Connor, and to the residents in the article that welcome their use. This generation not only grew up with technology and is comfortable with it, they may not even remember a day when they did not have a cell phone.
iPhones, Blackberries, and the like are great for capturing complex data for diabetics and many other patients. The wireless services that enable them and connect them with compute resources are massively scalable and reliable. Applications will abound that will assist patients and the medical community to better manage healthcare and organize the model by which it is delivered. It is just getting started.
This model is particularly well suited to assist the transition of care from hospital to home, an area where my company, Ankota, is focused. Once the patient leaves the hospital, multiple parties must be scheduled and coordinated, equipment delivered, and so on. The closed loop system you would expect is virtually non-existent. Treating physicians often have no idea how their patients fare after discharge or if they even follow the doctor's orders and take their medications. People and resources are not well coordinated and operating costs are higher than necessary because of it. The national average rate of readmission is needlessly high at 18%. And expensive.
Smartphones--with the applications and real-time communications to drive them--provide an ideal infrastructure for facilitating care and monitoring healthcare delivery outside of the hospital. This will better enable proactive care that benefits people with chronic conditions, a huge and rapidly growing segment of our population. Patients lives will be improved, hospital readmission rates will go down, and the cost of delivering care will be better managed.
To read the Information Week article in its entirety, go to http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219500004