Mount Sinai's Linda Rogers: mHealth poised for explosive growth

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York is tapping mHealth for asthma treatment, recently developing its own app. The Asthma Health App, which lets patients conduct self-monitoring of symptoms and disease triggers, and fosters positive behavioral decisions, is also helping patients adhere to treatment regimens. What's more, it's providing researchers with invaluable data aimed at helping the 25 million U.S. residents suffering from the chronic disease.

Currently, there is no cure for asthma, but Mount Sinai medical leaders believe a personal care plan can help prevent attacks and help patients live a fuller and more active lifestyle. FierceMobileHealthcare recently spoke with Linda Rogers, associate professor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the school, to gain deeper insight on mHealth strategies and the continuing focus on new innovations.

FierceMobileHealthcare: Can you provide a little background on the asthma app?

Linda Rogers: The app launched in March 2015 as one of the initial ResearchKit apps in collaboration with Apple. ResearchKit is an open source software that can be used to develop apps to conduct research via mobile phone. We developed Asthma Health to help patients learn about asthma, to learn to monitor their asthma, and in doing so, at the same time they also are participating in a large nationwide asthma study. We currently have over 10,000 participants enrolled in the study.

FMH: What is your view on the current trajectory of mobile health? Where do you see the industry in five or 10 years?

Rogers: Mobile health technology is really just starting to take root, but I think that we are going to see explosive growth in the next few years. People are going to increasingly use mHealth technologies and their mobile phones to track their general health and their medical conditions, monitor their blood pressure, blood sugar, breathing, activity and sleep. They'll also use it to access their medical records and to communicate with their health providers. Mobile tools are going to revolutionize the way we conduct many forms of research.

FMH: What has been the primary challenge for provider organizations in embracing mobile?

Rogers: Making sure that whatever mHealth tool is being used is medically or scientifically accurate for what it claims to do. There are many different products, some which have been well developed from a medical and scientific standpoint, and others where that is not the case. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is monitoring apps that are used to diagnose or recommend treatment for a condition, but apps used to self-monitor a condition are not as closely vetted.

People are going to want help sorting through which apps they should use and providers are going to need guidance about what apps to recommend. At Mount Sinai, there is ongoing work to develop a site where medical and health apps are vetted for their accuracy and effectiveness.

FMH: What advice can you provide to other healthcare providers that may be just starting out in adopting such tools?

Rogers: For now, it is good to focus on tools endorsed by professional organizations or societies in your particular field.

Editor's Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.