The Many Ways That your Smartphone Could Save Your Life

Posted on May 16, 2011 I Written By

There was a really interesting article in The New York Times a couple weeks ago that does a really great job of describing the different categories of healthcare, and specifically how your smartphone can help improve your health in those areas.  The full article can be found here, but the main points can be found below.


The first wave of mHealth (mobile health) apps are in areas like fitness, nutrition and general wellbeing which fall under the umbrella of “wellness”. Since the majority of contributing factors to diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer are lifestyle-related and therefore modifiable, these apps can be important preventative tools.

Chronic diseases

75-85 percent of healthcare spend goes on chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The Continua health alliance reports that remote monitoring can reduce mortality by 35-56 percent and hospitalization by up to 47 percent.

The elderly

In our youth-obsessed world, nobody likes to think about getting old and frail. But it happens to us all (if we are lucky) and we would all like to stay active and independent for as long as possible. Independa combines sensors, tablets and mobile technology to allow family caregivers to monitor the well-being of their elderly relatives when they can’t be physically present and gives the elderly easy access to services they need.


The technology required for the Mhealth revolution are mostly in place but there are other obstacles. Awareness of Mhealth apps is low among patients and medical professionals. Research from Accenture showed that among members of Generation X who had a chronic condition, only 9 percent were aware of Mhealth applications and a mere 3 percent owned one.

Mhealth is also a business in search of a business model.

The article goes much more in depth with each section talking about specific apps that can be used to improve your health, but I found these points most interesting.  The last section is where I found the most insight.

It is crazy to me that so many people are not aware of these apps and what they can do.  Maybe that comes from a perception that apps are about games and niche markets, but I was truly surprised that the numbers they gave were so low.

I also think the business model point was extremely interesting.  mHealth is combining the health world with the technology world, but in a way that has never really been done before because it is being given directly to the masses.  These apps are not something that are being restricted by doctors or hospitals but at the same time there needs to be some oversight when you get into the ones dealing with major illnesses.

It will be extremely interesting to see how companies overcome these hurdles because I have no doubt someone will and then everyone else will follow suit to try and be equally successful.