Physicians call for greater collaboration for boosting mHealth technologies

For mobile and consumer health technology to advance, there needs to be greater collaboration between technology players, physicians and patients to overcome hurdles stalling the ability to fully leverage the power of technology in primary care, according to an organization representing family physicians.

"We believe consumer health technologies--apps, wearables, self-diagnosis tools--have the potential to strengthen the patient-physician connection and improve health outcomes," Glen Stream, chair of Family Medicine for America's Health, a group formed in December 2014 representing eight top U.S. family medicine organizations, said at a panel discussion at last week's International Consumer Electronics Show.

Stream cited statistics from the American Academy of Family Physicians regarding the use of mobile medical applications. Currently, four in 10 physicians use apps at the point of care and seven in 10 of those recommend preventative and healthy lifestyle apps. Still, four in 10 physicians are concerned about apps due to questions regarding medical review and proven effectiveness. The panel cited other barriers facing mHealth, such as security and privacy of health data.

Those two concerns were recently cited as top hurdles thwarting use of mobile data for humanitarian use, according to research from The Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings.

Overcoming such challenges, Stream said, will require app developers to embrace physicians' and patients' involvement in the early development process. That will ensure apps are evidence-based, patient-friendly and interoperable.

The call to involve users and providers in the mHealth app process also recently was cited by industry watcher and consumer J.C. Herz in a Wired commentary. Herz said 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.

Stream and his new group believe user engagement in app building is a trend that can gain traction in the new year.

"We hope today is just the start," Stream said. "We would like to usher in a new era of collaboration between technology companies and physicians to ensure that we are developing technology that meets the needs of our patients and delivers on the promise of better care, better health, and lower costs."

For more information:
- read the announcement

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