App developers don't cater to patients who need mHealth most

Mobile healthcare app developers are way behind the eight ball in delivering on the enormous promise of mHealth tech and must stop creating "pet rock" software and devices that don't help patients or providers, writes consumer J.C. Herz in a Wired column.

Today's wearables, Herz writes, aren't being developed to help the chronically ill, elderly or the poor, all of whom would benefit most from mHealth innovations. The reasons why that is are many: fear of regulatory oversight, intimidation of bureaucracy, and lack of ambition to delve into clinical trial efforts. In addition, the mHealth developer doesn't want to tackle the critical issues of security and data privacy, she said.

"From Silicon Valley and San Francisco to Austin and MIT, young, healthy, highly educated, mostly male entrepreneurs are developing marginally useful apps and gadgets for people just like themselves," writes Herz, noting there are 266 wearable devices in the market, 118 of which are fitness focused.

The problem is that mHealth wearables are not going to trend in terms of advancement the way PCs and social media technologies have evolved, she said, adding that wearable adoption isn't occurring in the same vein.

"The alpha geeks home-brew technologies that are taken up by early adopters and spread until your mom is on board. The Silicon Valley assumption is that health and wellness will follow that same path," she writes, adding it won't happen because the end user is someone very different.

Herz' assertions align with David Lee Scher, M.D., who believes today's smartwatches are a fad and won't be in the mix when other mHealth tech takes root. In addition, PricewaterhouseCooper research showed that while consumers are seem interested in mHealth wearables, true adoption will only arrive when the tech prodvides greater value at lower costs.

Herz said the user populations that will embrace wearables and make a long-term commitment to tracking health are those dealing with one or more chronic diseases.

"Tracking and measuring--the quantified self--is what keeps them out of the hospital. And yet there are more developers who'd rather make a splash at a hackathon than create apps and devices for people who can benefit hugely from innovation in this area," she writes.

To learn more:
- read the column at Wired

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