Robust market looms for connected health, mobile healthcare apps

About six weeks ago, I shared some expert insight I received regarding the future of digital health and the outlook on use and adoption of remote patient monitoring technologies.

It was encouraging feedback, as providers increasingly are embracing such new tools and solutions, especially in relation to management of chronic conditions.

The arrival of a new year brings even more encouraging expectations, this time from the ACT | The App Association. The group recently released its fourth annual State of the App Economy report for 2016, and it projects big strides to come over the next four years.

In an interview with FierceMobileHealthcare, Morgan Reed, ACT executive director, shared his vision of the future for consumer digital health and technology challenges. He expects consumer fitness wearable to gain even more traction, but noted that the likely consumers are typically young and healthy, as opposed to older patients dealing with numerous ailments or chronic diseases.

In addition, he said that the emerging role of sensors within wearable devices and systems will be much more prominent as the focus going forward will be on developing sensors "into a product that meets the needs of care providers, patients and insurers."

"The readers of FierceMobileHealthcare health know better than anyone that the sensors powering wearables aren't expensive, it's the cost of developing those sensors into a product," Reed said.

It also will be an important year for connected healthcare given that electronic health record system use is growing more and more common, according to Reed.

"Making those systems perform better for patients and providers will be the next focal point," he said. "For care providers who have moved away from fee-for-service payment models, mission specific wearable products--such as devices and apps to help manage diabetes or wearables that help patients complete physical therapy for a knee replacement--will be critical."

The big sweet spot, Reed said, will come in relation to chronic care management. The aging population in the United States, he noted, is increasing by 10,000 per day, and a big portion of older patients are dealing with diabetes and heart disease.

"For chronic care management, devices that interact with an EHR will be everything," Reed said. "Overall, 2016 holds enormous opportunity for connected health companies." - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)