As we welcome 2015, it's hard not to be excited about what's to come, given what arrived last year, as I noted in my final editor's corner of 2014.
It's not silly to be enthusiastic and expect bigger and better from vendors such as Apple, which will debut its long awaited Watch and expand on its HealthKit platform; Samsung, given its impending mHealth strategy; or Google, with its steady progress on the mobile health front.
However, the real story, I believe, won't come from those or any other tech titans, but rather from the growing base of healthcare organizations, providers, payers and consumers that are embracing, demanding and expecting continued innovation.
Start-ups and incubators are on the cusp of meeting the challenges and obstacles often cited in mobile healthcare discussions (privacy, data security, interoperability with record keeping systems), and the results are likely to be amazing as developers and mHealth platform engineers are doing what's necessary to build and create useful, engaging, easy and dynamic tools.
The key to success, as several industry watchers expressed in 2014, will be listening to patients and users, not just designing and innovating on a whim or with a narrow eye on delivering the next great gadget. To that end, real excitement lies within early pilots in critical environments, such as a mobile health app aimed at improving tuberculosis care in Baltimore.
As several FierceMobileHealthcare news stories revealed last week, the mHealth 'word' going forward in 2015 will be validation, from wearables to apps to revamped platform development. And there is substantial work to be done to attain such validation. One study reports a vast number of mobile applications promising blood pressure and hypertension management capabilities lack validation and require greater oversight.
And when it comes to wearables, Steven Steinhubl, digital medicine program director at Scripps Translational Science Institute, believes that success lies in greater insight and clinical evidence of such potential benefit.
Such benefit and validation hinges on three key elements:
- User involvement
- User feedback
- User engagement
A look back, a look ahead at mHealth innovations
Apple HealthKit viewed as a major market changer
Samsung continues to forge mHealth
If Google walks and acts like a healthcare company...
Pilot app programs target TB monitoring and treatment efforts
Study: BP apps require greater oversight due to lack of validation
Steinhubl: Wearable sensors promising, but validation required