Arrival of tech titans in mHealth a big win for everyone

If the past two weeks are any indication, it seems that every technology and Internet company wants in on mobile healthcare devices, apps and services. That, of course, is a very good thing for patients, providers and payers, as well as the IT industry at large.

Why? First, let's look at who exactly is jumping into the mHealth pool.

On Monday, Apple announced itself as a major mHealth player with the debut of its HealthKit, which will foster data sharing across mHealth applications as well as healthcare institutions. Apple's foray, according to Adam Powell, Ph.D., president of Boston-based healthcare consulting group Payer+Provider Syndicate, effectively is pushing mHealth past the verge of "crossing the chasm" between early adopters and the early majority.

"Apple's announcement is evidence to me that it has finally done so," Powell told FierceMobileHealthcare via email. "Apple tends to wait on the sidelines until a market is ready to explode. It didn't produce the first mp3 player, smartphone or tablet, but was successful in popularizing those devices upon entering their respective markets."

Microsoft, meanwhile, reportedly is developing a smartwatch boasting sensors for monitoring and tracking a heart rate which will be operable with iPhone, Windows Phones and Android devices. For the offering, Microsoft will tap internal gurus involved in its Xbox Kinect technology.

What's more, Samsung, last week, debuted a digital health initiative using open hardware and software platforms for mHealth technology advancement and innovation. The goal, company officials said, is to empower consumers when it comes to managing health and wellness while accelerating new algorithms, sensor, data analysis and mHealth app and device development. 

Then, of course, there's Google, which launched into mHealth with Glass. As FierceMobileHealthcare recently reported, the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine wants to become the first medical school in the nation to integrate the use of Glass into its curriculum. As of the end of May it planned to use 10 pairs of glass in operating room and emergency department settings for third- and fourth-year students. In August, first- and second-year students will use 20 to 30 more pairs in settings such as anatomy labs, the medical simulation center and the ultrasound institute.

Getting back to the question at hand, what makes it so great that all of these tech titans are in the mix? For starters, they're innovative in product development, smart about consumer needs in verticals, and well aware of regulatory challenges, privacy concerns and security mandates.

In addition, a competitive market drives new product development while simultaneously driving down costs. Just look at what's happened in the PC and laptop market since tablets and big-screen smartphones have come into play. That likely means tremendous devices and add-ons to come and at a price consumers already facing high healthcare costs can handle.

Not a bad industry landscape at all. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)

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