Sunday, August 14, 2011

Growing number of medical experts move into mHealth apps field

Growing interest in mobile health applications has led to a sharp increase in the number of mHealth apps developed by universities, hospitals and other research institutes.

These organizations want to seize opportunities arising from widely circulating suggestions that the healthcare industry is facing a possible crisis. A report published last year by Pyramid Research indicates there is a global deficit of 2.4 million healthcare workers and an international shortage of hospital beds worldwide. This is leading to a situation in which governments, healthcare providers and insurance carriers are desperate to develop solutions that lower costs and improve patient care.

CATRA: Cataract Maps with Snap-on
Eyepiece for Mobile Phones

Unlike other consumer applications, developing medical apps requires a strong scientific background. The telemedicine field attracts researchers as it offers them an opportunity to utilize their medical knowledge to enter one of the fastest growing and most popular markets.

“In the past, most projects offered by academic researchers remained on the drawing board and most of them never materialized into commercial products,” said Ofer Atzmon, Vice President for Business Development and Marketing at Aerotel Medical Systems.

“It remains to be seen if the growing popularity of mHealth will change this trend, and whether more scientific research projects will turn into commercial applications.”

Pyramid Research predicts that the mHealth technologies market will approach $5 billion by 2014 and more than double by 2020.

Here are several examples of applications and other mHealth solutions developed by researchers from the academic world.

DailyData - a mobile app that can tell users when they’re getting sick, based on models and predictions developed in MIT.

CATRA – a solution to detect and quantify cataracts with a compact eyepiece attached to a cell phone, also developed by MIT researchers.

Open mHealth – a project dedicated to apps that collect health-related information developed at UCLA and UCSF.

iTrem – an application allowing Parkinson’s disease patients to collect and send medical information developed by researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Nerve Whiz – an app for medical professionals interested in learning the anatomy of nerve roots, plexuses and peripheral nerves, designed by a neuromuscular neurologist at the University of Michigan.

If you know of any other applications that were developed by researchers please tell us about it in the comment box and we will update the post.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Report: Telemedicine companies should explore granting free trial period

A brief use of a Web-based telemedicine service has a significant positive effect on patients' perceptions of the service, according to a survey conducted by a team of Dutch experts.

The researchers, from the University of Twente, concluded that healthcare providers should consider offering patients a risk-free way to explore and experiment telemedicine services. They said that by doing so telemedicine companies can increase the development of accurate perceptions and user needs.  

The survey focused on investigating whether patients' perceptions of Web-based telemedicine services changed after brief use. The research included 30 patients, who were divided into a control group and an experimental group. The results indicated that patients within the experimental group became significantly more positive about the usefulness and ease-of-use after a very short period of use. 

The report indicates that despite the great potential of telemedicine user acceptance proves one important barrier to implementation in mainstream healthcare. 

"These results show the significant positive effect of brief use of a telemedicine service on patients' perceptions of this service," The authors concluded. "Therefore, it is important to offer patients the opportunity to experiment with the service to foster the development of accurate beliefs, which will consequently result in more adequate user needs possibly benefiting patient acceptance."