How Smartphones Are Facilitating Better Health Care

What do you get when you combine the tech industry with the health care industry? One answer is “mHealth,” which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines as “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.”

Mashable estimates that there are about 40,000 mobile health apps currently available for tablets and smartphones — comprised of a wide range of apps that can help patients access their health records electronically, log exercise time, monitor blood pressure levels, track pregnancies, and check nearby pollen levels, among other things. By some estimates, the number of 2012 downloads for mobile health apps will reach around 247 million by the end of this year, nearly double the figure from last year.

The health care education portal Allied Health World created an infographic to communicate some of the impact that the rise of mHealth has had on health care consumers, including improved access to medical health information and significant savings on health care services for some segments of the U.S. population:

In fact, as a growing number of Americans consumers and businesses capitalize on mHealth, the Food and Drug Administration is paving the way for the safe and practical implementation of mobile technology in the health care sector. Last year, the FDA released guidelines for mobile health apps to help ensure that emerging health technologies are providing consumers with accurate information before they hit the market. The FDA’s website has also now includes an mHealth page under its Medical Devices section, noting that the agency “encourages further development of mobile medical apps that improve health care and provide consumers and health care professionals with valuable health information very quickly.”