Medical Writing: Are Mobile Technologies Revolutionizing Medicine? Part II
Need to check your blood pressure? Monitor your asthma? Schedule a doctor’s appointment?
There’s an app for that.
Within just the past few years, mobile technologies have revolutionized the way we live our lives; from shopping, to dinning, to dating, and perhaps most notably, in the field of health care.
Today, health applications are capable of extraordinary feats. Allayo is a free application created to help users manage their health care from insurance plans to health care providers. Sleep Cycle is an alarm application engineered to improve the sleeping patterns of its users. The application will monitor its user’s sleeping cycle, and only sound the alarm when the user is in his or her lightest phase of sleep (within a 30 minute window previously set by the user). There is even an application to help users avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. When turned on, Mosquito Buster, will emit a high-pitched frequency, undetectable by human ears, but unbearable for most mosquitos.
Even more astounding health applications are currently being developed. According to Dr. Blaine Price, computer scientist at Open University, his lab is currently working on an application which uses a cellphone camera to measure its user’s heart rate by analyzing changes in facial features.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on developing these applications each year, and researchers estimate that around half a billion people will be using mobile health applications by 2015.
Engineers behind these health applications hope that they will empower their users to take control of their health, and help to prevent health issues like obesity and diabetes.
However, some researchers and physicians harbor concerns regarding the safety and reliability of these mobile applications, especially for those applications that aim to address more serious medical concerns; for example, one application currently being developed for Apple’s iWatch will be capable of monitoring its user’s blood sugar.
Unlike medical devices, which undergo strict testing and quality control by the Food and Drug Administration, mobile applications have no such testing regulations.
As more stringent regulations for such health applications will not be implemented in the near future, physicians and researchers urge users to be cautious about which applications they use and what they use them for. Users should be sure they know how to use the applications properly, and always consult a physician for any medical concerns.
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Tang, Melinda. “3 Smartphone Health Apps You Might Not Have Expected.” Vector 3 Smartphone Health Apps You Might Not Have Expected Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.
“‘Tipping Point’ for Mobile Health Apps.” BBC News. BBC, 08 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2013.