NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Smart Phone Based Medical Devices Making Big Impacts

March 2, 2015

Investments in digital health ventures doubled in 2014. Institutions, analysts and MDs envision the opportunity to reduce the colossal inefficiency of current medical practice by exploiting the Internet of Things, says Jeong Seo, research associate at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Additionally, according to a recent JAMA article, the number of mobile devices connected via the internet is doubling every five years, and there will be nearly seven connected devices per individual by 2020.

The development most directly affecting today's patient is sensors in smartphones and wearable devices. Such technology quantify physiologic metrics ranging from an individual's number of steps taken to his or her vital signs.

Smartphones have already achieved what pedometers have not: wide adoption by the general population. Nearly two out of three U.S. adults own a smartphone and over one in four Americans have used sensors to track activity.

  • Counting steps has been a successful tool used to improve clinical outcomes.
  • Smartphone cameras can now diagnose skin lesions with accuracy equivalent to or exceeding that of physicians.
  • Similar applications for blood pressure and glucose levels have already hit consumer markets.

As digital medicine moves rapidly, key dynamics to monitor include congressional approval and privacy issues. The medical community, regulators and consumers will decide how these innovations are used. The technology itself, however, is not slowing down for anyone.

Source: Jeong Seo, "Future of Medicine and the Internet of Things," The National Center for Policy Analysis, February 26, 2015. 


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