THINGS ARE LOOKING APP

  ©Fitbit

©Fitbit

There are now around 165,000 health-related apps available for the two main smartphone operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, which according to PwC will have been downloaded 1.7 billion times by 2017.

So far, most smartphone health apps fall into the category of “wellness”. Along with wearables, such as the Fitbit bands or Apple Watch, such apps help people to manage and monitor their exercise, diet, sleep and more. However, m-health apps increasingly promise to do more than just tracking and sharing data with friends. There is a growing number of apps that take on more serious work, such as linking users with the right doctors, or determining an illness based on the symptoms the patient submits.

Nevertheless, as m-health apps start to accumulate more date, privacy concerns are starting to arrive questioning how patients’ data are stored, used and shared. In the USA, the rules on the storage and transmission of personal-health data have not been changed since the advent of the iPhone.

Though, most of us are aware that information about each of us are constantly being stored, it seems that doctors and hospitals may be reluctant to embrace those vital data points until the rules are being changed. It seems as if the fragmented m-health market is likely to be consolidated in time, with its most promising startups perhaps being bought by, or entering alliances with, trusted health brands. That would help it to realise its substantial potential to help patients, doctors, health insurers and researchers alike.