Smartphones: The mHealth device, app platform and communication tool everyone needs

Sometimes when it comes to technology and all that's happening with mobile tech and mHealth tools, one can get mired down in the muck of hype, hyperbole, snazzy phrases and clichés (don't get me started on my pet peeve with 'at the end of the day' still pitched out by vendors and 'visionaries').

But every now and then, someone--typically in the frenzy of actually advancing mHealth--says exactly the perfect phrase to define a mobile health strategy in the most concise and clear way.

This week, that honor goes to Edward Fisher, CTO at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The hospital is getting ready to kick off a smartphone-based app communications system that will completely change interaction between caregivers and the relationship between patients and doctors.

"We envision the smartphone platform to be the workstation of the future," Fisher told Yale Daily News, adding system deployment across YNHH facilities will happen in the next two years.

Yes, the smartphone will be the workstation in the healthcare environment. And while Fisher is just the most recent to state such a declaration, the evidence of smartphones becoming the de facto mobile app platform, tool and device has been consistently illustrated in headlines regarding mHealth news.

Consider how hospitals now are building their own smartphone app bars, providing staff, visitors and patients support for tapping smartphone apps as part of the patient care experience.

Smartphones are being handed out to boost communications between caregivers; distributed to patients for remote and telehealth programs for follow-up and medical monitoring needs; doled out to expectant mothers to stem pre-term births; issued to teens learning how to best manage diabetes; provided to those suffering from mental health issues; and now benefiting from real time texts of support and caregiver response.

All of this evidence leads to one conclusion: mHealth providers would do well, as would any Obamacare provider, to provide any and all plan subscribers a smartphone or at least a cost reduction incentive to those already with a smartphone and willing to sign on to use smartphone apps endorsed by medical professionals involved in their treatment.

It's akin to insurance providers giving a break to those participating in wellness programs or taking action to stem bad lifestyle habits such as smoking. For years and years, telecoms have been subsidizing smartphone use to drive plans and packages (that typically do factor in that subsidy cost in some regard) and gain bigger customer market share. Car insurers provide plan reductions for those who take safe driving classes.

It's a strategy that's worked well for several industries, and could work well for the healthcare industry, as well. It also obviously would benefit patients, smartphone manufacturers and all the app developers that build tools for the various OS platforms.

There's no reason for healthcare providers not to grab the strategy and run with it. It's an opportunity to shine in the competitive healthcare marketplace, given that smartphones can be 'branded' and apps can be customized and available at a hospital's app store.

Lets hope the next six months brings headlines that reflect such a strategy. It's very clear that smartphones are the mobile healthcare workhorses and on their way to being the Clydesdales in the industry. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)