Smartphones Meet Health Care

April 14, 2010 – According to a new report, smartphones are playing an increasing health care role for both physicians and patients.

The California HealthCare Foundation has just released “How Smartphones are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers,” a 20-page overview authored by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, MA, MHSA. The report, which can be downloaded by clicking here, is broken up into five sections:

I. Smartphones Meet Health and Health Care
II. Who Are the Consumers of Mobile Internet?
III. Smartphone Apps for Clinicians and Consumers
IV. The Market for Smartphones and Health: Some Barriers
V. Looking Forward: Insights from the Early Adoption Phase

Among the information found in the report:

  • As of February 2010, Apple provided 5,805 health, medical and fitness applications, of which 73% were intended for consumers or patients; 27% were targeted to health care professionals.

  • Smartphones can be used as a means for doctors to stay abreast of medical alerts from the FDA or CDC and on breakthroughs in areas of interest to the individual physician.

  • Epocrates, an online medical reference company, provides a drug reference application that is the most popular free medical download in the iTunes store.

  • Laboratory and blood work can be delivered to a physician via smartphone as soon as they are completed, after which a physician can email follow-up instructions to patients whose lab work indicates a need for this.

  • Electronic personal health records are an avenue that some patients may wish to explore as this area expands.

  • Existing diabetes applications can be used to help monitor individual blood glucose levels.

  • At this point, too many applications are driven by technologists without appropriate input from potential users, such as patients.

  • There is legitimate consumer wariness over whether a consumer is getting a safe, medically credible application. Applications can be created by anyone, so consumers must exercise caution and learn about the application’s source before downloading and using one. (The FDA does not currently review medical applications, but it is possible that they could become classified as “medical devices” and therefore come under their area of control.)

  • Privacy and security of personal information are still issues that must be met to consumers’ satisfaction.


Download ““How Smartphones are Changing Health Care for Consumers and Providers” by clicking here.

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In sum, there appears to be great potential in the use of smartphones in health care matters, but there also are concerns that must be addressed.

What about you? Do you currently use a smartphone in health care areas as a patient or health care provider? If so, what do you see as its advantages and disadvantages? If not, what would need to change before you would consider utilizing a smartphone in this area? Email Craig Butler at with your comments and questions and we’ll post them (anonymously, if you wish) on the website.

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