Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

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Is Wearable Technology Over-Hyped?

By Ryan Mcaskill

While there is much excitement over mobile health technology, there is a belief that it could be over-hyped.

The problem with many trends is that it can be difficult to separate the hype from the reality. With every new Apple product launch, for example, there are a multitude of stories about how the new features will change various landscape, but when the product is announced those features are not always present.

- This is also clearly present in the mobile health landscape. Many major mobile device companies are including health tracking as a core part of its products and healthcare providers are adopting them into operations. However, while there is excitement over the use of wearable technology and other mobile devices to help improve patient health, there is concern that the hype has surpassed the reality.

In a recent article by Howard Steinberg for Forbes, the entrepreneur make the case that mobile health as it stands right now is “dramatically over-hyped.” Specifically, he speaks about the difference between the devices and the content that they create.

“The belief that new technology like body monitoring and data tracking is the key to a healthier and happier world ignores the huge role that content plays in converting data and analytics into emotion that engages people in new health behaviors by humanizing our experience with technology,” Steinberg wrote. “It’s one thing to get fitness fanatics who already take care of themselves to adopt cool new devices. It’s an entirely different challenge to attack major health issues like diabetes among large populations historically resistant to engaging in their own care.”

However, Steinberg did say that mobile devices have future, they just need to be handled properly. Specifically, the content used or created by wearables and other mobile devices needs to be personalized, compelling and imaginative content that can easily be used to engage patients. He added that it has the potential to become a “biological information superhighway” for data transferred from a patient’s body and mind.

Steinberg’s attitude is similar to what was found in a study released last week. The study from the Economist spoke with 144 healthcare leaders in the public and private sectors. It was discovered that 79 percent of respondents see mobile technology as mainly providing education and information. It also found that 36 percent have seen improvement the quality of communication between doctors and patients and 19 percent said it was improving personal awareness through self-monitoring.

However, in five years, 50 percent of respondents believe the primary role of mobile health will enable patients to engage proactively in their own care and lower costs. The report did not mention the role that content will play.

While it is clear that there is a lot of hype surrounding mobile health, but living up to it may take some time.

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