Resistance is Futile: Smartphone Apps Coming to Health Care

How Smartphones are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers is the topic of an excellent report just out from Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (@HealthyThinker) and the California Healthcare Foundation. It begins…

The topic of smartphones in health is an intersection of two fast-evolving ecosystems: health and technology. The junction is a dynamic one in which a particular communications platform is advancing both consumers’ and providers’ engagement with health information technology.

The speed of the uptake has been remarkable for a nation that has been traditionally slow to adopt HIT…. Two-thirds of physicians used smartphones in 2009. About 6 percent of these were using a fully functional electronic medical record or electronic health record system — while only 1.5 percent of hospitals had a comprehensive electronic health record system as of 2008.

On the consumer side, 42 percent of Americans owned smartphones as of December 2009, despite the recession that began a year earlier. In fact, according to cnet, the smartphone market was “unfazed by the recession.”

I’m glad to have put Jane in touch with my colleague Scott Eising (@ScottEising), who is coordinating our Mayo Clinic mobile ventures, and that Scott’s comments are featured in her thought-provoking report.

Here are a few of the thoughts it provoked in me:

  • With such broad adoption of smartphones, corporate blocking of social networking sites in the workplace will be meaningless within a year. If two of three physicians – and more than two of five consumers – already have smartphones and can access the Internet, there is no way social network blocking can be effective unless employee phones are confiscated during work hours. Therefore it would be more profitable for IT departments to facilitate the right kind of social networking usage instead of trying to hold it back.
  • Rapid Growth. The low cost of developing smarthphone apps, combined with the amount of funding being devoted to health IT and the speed with which apps can be deployed, means we will continue to see rapid growth in innovation in apps for both providers and patients.
  • The iPad will make a significant difference in mobile health IT adoption. OK, it wasn’t really Jane’s report that provoked me to think this. I stopped at Best Buy and played with one. Beautiful device. Super fast. Great interface. I probably won’t buy one until the next generation (just as I waited until the second generation of the iPod and the iPhone 3g), but I see it really changing the way people interact with computers.
  • Is it Health Care or Healthcare? The report’s title is How Smartphones are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers but the sponsoring organization is the California HealthCare Foundation.

What other thoughts does the report provoke in you?