All that personal health data

KEY TAKEAWAY:  We’re in the middle of a health care revolution.  Never before have consumers been offered so many devices and apps to monitor their health, but there are two key questions.  One, will people actually take the time to monitor their health and two, what will they do with the data?

Over the last few years there have been a lot of stories contradicting accepted guideline for everything from cholesterol to blood pressure.  Now that consumers have a lot of options to help them monitor their health how will they respond?  Will it keep them away from a qualified HCP or will it drive them into their doctor and will physicians believe the data?

One of the biggest complaints about our health care system is the insistent need for “tests” which usually require more appointments and time .  More and more health care groups are offering “one stop” shopping where a patient can get all the tests he/she needs at one place, often without an appointment.  But when it comes to monitoring our own health who makes the decision to seek professional help?

If we leave it to users of devices and apps it could be playing with fire.  Our basic health data, such as BP, cholesterol and heart rate, are easy to monitor and understand, but there are also other factors that come into play such as diet and family history.   Only a qualified HCP can diagnose dangerous warning signs that could have a profound effect on a patient’s health later down the road.

Keep in mind that we are just in the beginning phase of wearable devices and apps that monitor health, but in order for them to be really useful they have to be integrated into our health care files.  Data, for example, could be loaded into an app which can be sent to a a patient’s physician for review.  However, if these devices, or apps, keep patients away from their doctor there could be a lot of repercussions. Early detection is the key to fighting serious health problems.

To data pharma has stayed away from the debate.  It can cost over $450k to develop a health app at a time when pharma budgets are undergoing intense scrutiny.  Unless pharma marketers can prove a direct link to ROI most organizations are not going to invest in mobile health devices or apps.

Now is the time for the AMA to get involved and work with the FDA and patients to help clear away the woods from a good trail that can help people monitor their health. Will it happen or will we continue to see new wearables and apps launched that supply people with data they may not understand?

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