The Journal of mHealth Vol 1 Issue 3 (June 2014) - Page 47

The Changing Face of Healthcare: Quality in Medical Applications The Changing Face Of Healthcare: Quality in Medical Applications A thought leadership article by Dieter Speidel For generations, innovations that created direct impact and value were personified by lone geniuses, the likes of Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs toiling away in their laboratories. Today's reality, however, paints a different picture; the confluence of Political, Economic, Social, and Technological forces forge a diverse, and often complex ecosystem that shapes, fosters and demands innovation. The medical technology field, especially in the developed economies, long profited from the convergence of forces that spurred innovations, such as prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, imaging technologies and less-invasive cardiovascular procedures, which have reduced recovery times and greatly improved healthcare outcomes. However, according to PwC’s report titled, “Operating performance in the Medtech industry: Trends and imperatives”, Research and Development (R&D) activities are not generating as much value and growth as they historically did. PwC's study of 56 global medical technology companies revealed that the impact of R&D on revenue growth declined at an average annual rate of 10% between 2005 and 2011. These companies compensated for this decline through cost cutting measures and by increasing operational efficiencies. The most significant challenge faced by the medical device industry is that the fundamental nature of innovation has changed dramatically. It was a world built on incremental innovations with hardware focus. The notion that the players could demand price premiums for these innovations is slowly disintegrating. This phenomenon is accelerated by the emergence of modular systems that complement hardware ubiquitously available among healthcare stakeholders and by shift to software-centricity. The adoption of mobile technology at breakneck speed has also transformed the Healthcare industry, creating an area of innovation - Mobile Healthcare (mHealth), fueled by numerous mobile applications developed and released by companies and developers alike for general use by lifestyle consumers, patients and healthcare professionals’. In 2012, the number of medical application users reached 247 million and the global revenue from mHealth apps grew to USD 1.3 billion, and continues to grow on an upward trending curve. Surveys reveal that mobile applications have become increasingly important to both, patients and doctors alike. Research conducted by Dutch physicians showed that over 60% of doctors use medical apps on their mobile devices. 83% of them use mobile apps to find information; 47% utilise them for reference purposes, and about 40% use them for support during consultations. With mobile applications, regular smartphones could be easily converted into an effective healthcare platform that patients come to rely on. However, another study published by the Department of Neurology in the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam also discusses the dangers, lack of regulation, and proposes quality assurance guidelines for mobile healthcare apps. The authors of the study agree that medical apps have tremendous potential, but also underline the alarming lack of knowledge about risks these apps pose. Regulation and guidance are urgently required. Disease symptoms and medication side effects can be easily and progressively tracked, logged and electronically shared with healthcare practitioners. Gathering diagnostic data, such as blood pressure, heartbeat rate, and even much more complex and kinds of diagnostics such as e.g. for antibiotic resistance and eye diseases can be automated. Appointments with healthcare specialists can be scheduled with a single click and these YY][