Mobile health apps: Challenges equal opportunities

UnknownI consider myself an empowered and knowledgeable patient, but what I am seeing first hand is that some physicians are really skeptical of mobile health “apps”.

Not too long ago I had a minor AFIB attack caused by dehydration and exercising on a very warm day.  I had an app for the iPhone that produces an EKG and when I printed them out and showed them to my cardiologist his response was lukewarm at best.  When I asked him about it, he said that “mobile apps are not a good resource for anything to do with a current medical condition”.

From this author’s perspective the whole mobile health phenomenon is more hype than reality.

The FDA, for the most part has chosen to stay out of regulating the majority of mobile health apps which means that there are a hell of a lot of apps out there that may be causing more harm than good. If a patient, for example, decides to delay treatment because of data on a mobile app that is not really accurate this is dangerous for patients and our healthcare system.

In order for health apps to be successful developers are going to have to get buy in from HCP’s who are skeptical that they tell a healthy picture of patients.  You can read all the stats you want about how doctors “feel” when it comes to mobile health, but there is still a lot of skepticism within the medical community.  I found this out from qual research with doctors last summer.

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An opportunity for pharma

There is, in my opinion, a huge opportunity for pharma to use mobile apps as part of patient wellness and awareness.  In order for pharma to leverage apps they need to..

1ne: Realign the organization to focus on the development of mobile apps to include medical people.

2wo: Ensure apps provide insights that HCP’s accept as diagnostic criteria.

3hree: Help patients monitor their health; not to be used as a replacement for a visit to a physician.

4our: Are consistently updated as needed to align with OS updates.

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Of course the even bigger challenge in all this is convincing management that they need to build capabilities at a time when more and more drugs are coming off patent (86% of Rx sales are generic). However, the forward thinking executives will look at the possibilities to improve patient health rather than the costs and the ROI of everything.

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