Seeing the future of mHealth through many different crystal balls

Lately, the mobile healthcare industry seems preoccupied with trying to forecast its future. With the widespread proliferation of smartphones and the launch of thousands of new mHealth apps, it's not surprising that pundits and industry observers have gotten into the act of playing soothsayers for this rapidly growing market.

Last week, I read with great interest a contributed article by John Sung Kim, CEO of San Francisco-based, which argues that the future of mobile healthcare is mHealth-as-a-Service. Anyone who has witnessed the commercial explosion of the software-as-a-service cloud computing model might not put Sung Kim in the same category as Alvin Toffler (author of Future Shock, a book about information overload and too much change too fast in the future), but I can see how Sung Kim sees society "approaching [an] mHaaS future."

Just this week, another research firm issued a report on the mobile healthcare market. This one, however, thankfully refrained from providing the typical sky-high ballpark estimate for the mHealth industry measured in billions of dollars and instead projected double-digit growth rates in the not-too-distant future that is guaranteed to get app developers drooling.

Next week in Washington, D.C., a breakfast forum sponsored by Comcast, Google and US Telecom will tackle the very issue of the "present and future of mobile health" and, separately, at TEDMED 2013 attendees will witness the debut of a smartphone-enabled physical exam that is being billed as the "checkup of the future."

Even here at FierceMobileHealthcare we have done some of our own future telling. This month, we will run a feature focusing on the "future of mobile technology in healthcare," so stay tuned.

I'm the first to admit that consulting one's crystal ball and predicting the future is no easy task, especially given the lightning-fast pace with which wireless technology changes. It's very difficult to anticipate trends and industry adoption when the market is moving so quickly.

Nevertheless, analysts and experts will continue to make their predictions and to issue forecasts in an attempt to get out in front of the mHealth juggernaut. I take comfort in Bob Dylan's lyrics: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." That's my personal philosophy when it comes to mobile healthcare and I'm sticking to it. - Greg (@Slabodkin)