Why future mobile medical tools will put fitness monitors, heartbeat apps to shame

Imagine a sock that helps keep Alzheimer sufferers safe from harm and wandering off, smart clothing that tracks everything from breathing to pulse rates, a toilet that analyzes vitamin and hydration levels and laser wands that replace blood sugar pinpricks for monitoring diabetes.

That is the future of today's mHealth technologies, according to healthcare experts and industry watchers, and it could all come about in less than a decade, writes Christine Morgan in an article at high50.

Not only will mHealth systems, devices and apps become sophisticated well beyond today's capabilities, she says, so, too, will the knowledge involved in medical diagnoses given the data insight provided by such tools.

"Being aware of their likelihood of disease and possible risk factors, coupled with constant monitoring through intelligent technology, means people will be able to spot the symptoms of illness from a very early stage, or simply prevent them altogether," Paul Zollinger-Read, chief medical officer at Bupa, tells Morgan.

As FierceMobileHealthcare has reported, significant mHealth innovations already are in play. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first-ever wireless monitoring tool proven to greatly reduce heart failure hospitalizations as well as a software algorithm that detects atrial fibrillation on a mobile heart monitor. 

Diabetes treatment also is a huge focus for mHealth innovations. A wearable, automated bionic pancreas, created using an iPhone 4S and a G4 Platinum continuous glucose monitor and a software algorithm, outperformed a traditional insulin pump approach in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, two separate research teams are working on independent wearable biometric watch devices that both tap changing patterns of scattered light for non-invasive glucose monitoring and pulse tracking.

Such innovations are part of the "revolution" of health and well being underway, writes Morgan, who interviews several experts about how mobile devices and apps are transforming healthcare.

"During the next five years, health apps will empower consumers to make improved and informed lifestyle choices leading to better health and reducing the risk of chronic disease," Damon Lightley, managing director at Genetic Apps, tells Morgan. "In the near future, we will see mobile, wearables and data-collection devices mesh together to provide the backbone for the optimization and customization of preventative health and medical treatment."

For more information:
- read the high50 article

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