As consumers become more connected electronically, the demand for mobile health—mobile patient records, health applications for smartphones, real-time wellness data—will continue to climb. The trick is to manage those demands in a way that is efficient for the patient, and protects their wellbeing, according to Dr. Luis Saldana, associate chief medical information officer at Texas Health Resources.
Saldana spoke Wednesday at Dallas Health 2.0, a local branch of a broader movement dedicated toward networking and brainstorming about new technologies in healthcare. More than 100 people attended the Uptown event.
“Our goal is for the data to follow the patient,” Saldana said. “It shouldn’t be with us in an office. It should be with you, available when you need it.”
Part of that, Saldana said, is limiting the number of people who even need healthcare. Smartphones applications allow us to track our blood pressure, heart rate, dietary habits, and sleep patterns. The problem is, most doctors only see what’s on a patient’s chart. Combining those two worlds—professional medical expertise and personal tracking—needs to be better evaluated, he added.
“There are start-ups popping up all the time for this, but it’s a good question,” said Dallas Health 2.0 founder Michael Walsh. “What do I do with this?”
Saldana implored the gathered crowd—which included healthcare app designers—to take the time to understand the world they were entering; visit an emergency room, he said, don’t just build a platform.
“You have to learn all aspects of it,” he said.
A recently released Research and Markets mobile health trends report shows the industry poised for a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent by 2017, reaching a value of $26 billion. This revenue, researchers project, will be derived predominantly from mobile health hardware sales and services. The study also estimates that some 50 percent of mobile users will have downloaded a health application within five years.
The Food and Drug Administration is slated to issue mobile health regulations in October, a move that medical trade associations and electronic health record vendors have pushed back against, arguing that the pace of regulation is too fast.
“There’s a lot of attention being placed on physicians recommending apps, but the doctors I know don’t know much about them,” Saldana said.