Cell phones may revolutionize patient monitoring

The applications of mobile health monitoring via cell phone seem limitless, two experts say. "The cell phone is perfect because it's like a wristwatch that you carry around," Shankar Sastry, dean of engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, says in an audio interview with iHealthBeat. Cell phones can provide two pieces missing from healthcare today: personal access to medical records and the ability to become a distributed sensor network. "It changes electronic medical records to be personal health records," Sastry explains.

Some of this is already being used in sports medicine, but as cell phones become more powerful, the technology will advance so that phones can receive and actively analyze data from sensors. Eventually, people will start to take control of health maintenance, potentially altering the dynamic of healthcare and raising a challenge related to reimbursement.

Monique Levy, senior director of research at Manhattan Research, agrees that cell phones can personalize care and keep people on regimens that often fail to become part of one's daily routine. "It's ideal for having those bite-size pieces of information to keep you on track through the day," she says. Levy doesn't believe consumers will buy this technology directly, but rather as one feature to consider when shopping for a new phone.

To listen to the interview:
- click through to this iHealthBeat story