mHealth: There’s a Grant for That

Friday, August 5th, 2011
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

By 2015 more than 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using healthcare applications, research studies show. So it’s not surprising the FDA is taking a closer look at some of these apps, specifically, those whose misuse could endanger its users.

These “medical mobile apps,” as the FDA is calling them, are specific to medicine or healthcare and are designed for use on smartphones and other mobile computing devices and will offer everything from blood sugar monitoring to ECG machines.

As we reported in a previous HBWU issue about IBM, the benefits of these health and medical apps are immeasurable, not just here, but in underserved, frequently rural communities around the globe, especially where patients have no access to doctors, these devices can save lives.

And they can save billions of dollars as well. According to studies from Juniper Research using mobile health, or mHealth, technologies for health monitoring could save from $1.96 billion to $5.83 billion in healthcare costs by the year 2014. So the Center for Technology and Aging (CTA) (techandaging.org), with funding from The SCAN Foundation, has awarded nearly $500,000 in one-year grants to five organizations that will demonstrate the best ways to implement mHealth technologies for older, chronically ill adults, ironically, the population least likely to own a smartphone. The grants will help the CTA to meet its four areas of opportunity that it feels can best transform lives: medication optimization, remote patient monitoring, care transitions, and mobile health. And in a recently published paper the agency discusses how

cell phones, smart phones, laptop and tablet computers, and other mobile enabled devices are being used to help millions of older Americans as well as their physicians and caregivers manage chronic disease, use their medications properly, avoid safety risks (e.g. fall detection), access online health information, and stay well.

With the exploding growth of mHealth technology it seems that smartphones will eventually be used for everything but plain old talking. Hopefully the dialogue between a patient and physician won’t be relegated to a tiny FaceTime screen on an IPhone.

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