Written by: Katherine Rourke
My colleague, John Lynn, posted a hilarious CES marketing video advertising a new product it calls the iOximeter. The iOximeter, which operates on both the iOS and Android platforms, is an independent device which attaches to smart phones, turning the phone into a pulse oximeter.
I strongly suspect that an i-glucose meter, i-scale and i-blood pressure cuff designed for the mass consumer market are starting to make major headway.
Not to be Scrooge at the Christmas party — I think such devices are a very positive development — but I’m left wondering what the purpose of getting the data onto the phone really is. After all, unless the data gets to a physician conveniently, and ideally comes to live in their EMR, just how much good does it do?
On the consumer side, it does little but add bells and whistles to products consumers are increasingly used to using anyway, given that the price point for these devices is low enough that they’re sold in consumer pharmacies.
On the provider side meanwhile, you’re left with data that, while it might be arranged in pretty charts, doesn’t integrate itself easily into clinicians’ work flow. And with EMRs already dumping huge volumes of data into their laps, some physicians are actively resisting integrating such data into the records.
No, the existing arrangement simply doesn’t do anything for clinicians, it seems. Yes, consumers who are into the whole Quantified Self movement might find collecting such data to be satisfying, but the truth is that at this point many doctors just don’t want a ton of consumer-driven data added to the mix.
To make such phone-based devices useful to clinicians, someone will probably have to create a form of middleware, more or less, which accepts, parses, and organizes the data coming in from mobile health app/device combos like these. When such a middleware layer goes into wide use, then you’ll see hospitals and doctors actively promote the use of these apps and devices. Until then, devices like the iOximeter aren’t exactly toys, but they’re not going to change healthcare either.