For example, Oscar has a network of 40,000 providers in the tri-state area - New York, New Jersey and Connecticut - that allows consumers to get an insurance quote in a virtual instant. It also provides 24/7 access to doctors through telemedicine, offers plans with free generic drugs, and makes integrated use of smart mHealth technology.
Earlier this year the company received a healthy dose of funding—$80 million —a strong indication that the growing field of mHealth technology is gaining momentum among patients and healthcare professionals. If the trend continues, mhealthtechnology will be used even more frequently through innovative health insurance offerings in the years to come.
What might the future look like for mHealth insurance and app development? What does it mean for medical practice? We spoke with Jordan Edelson, Founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, about the future of mHealthcare delivery and utility.
TPP: Tell us about Oscar and how they are making intuitive use of technology, data, and design to provide health insurance services.
Edelson: Oscar is extremely forward-facing when it comes to new technology advances. They are one of the first healthcare companies to have put a telemedicine plan in place.
Under this system, doctors are on call 24/7 to talk with patients and prescribe medication if needed. They are using technology and design to humanize healthcare.
TPP: What is the significance of the industry moving in this direction?
Edelson: It entails a more wide-spread healthcare system. When people have access to immediate medical attention through a mobile application, diagnoses can be made rapidly and more efficiently.
TPP: What are the top three trends in mobile medical app development?
Edelson: First, mMedical apps will provide secure ways to capture and store sensitive medical data. Second, these apps will provide analysis and diagnostics for patients in real-time. Apps will allow doctors to obtain a secondary opinion or consult a specialist instantaneously. Eventually, as the technology progresses, doctors will have access to a large database of anonymous data, expanding their resources for comparative analysis.
The third important trend is that wearable health technology creates new censors and data points, providing doctors with extensive data to analyze when comparing results. For example, heart rate censors and contact lenses that monitor blood sugar in diabetics will be able to provide the doctor with additional information that he or she may not have ordinarily be privy to in that extent.
Furthermore, if the censor detects heart issues, it will be able to alert your doctor in real time.
TPP: Where do you see the trends taking the industry in the next 5 years or so?
Edelson: We will see significant changes to the industry within the next five years as more points of data become available to healthcare providers. With the additional data, medical professionals can provide patients with more in-depth and comprehensive analysis. With the use of smart systems, the analysis can be done in real time and provide feedback the patient otherwise could not have gotten.
There will certainly be a greater level of data available to healthcare providers as the storage of medical records increases.
In about five years, we will probably see more doctors utilizing these records for comparative analysis, which can assist in accurately diagnosing patients' conditions.
We will also see more and more of analysis done at home, minimizing the number of doctor's visits. Soon sonograms will be accessible through the iphone.
TPP: What are the pros and cons of consumer companies (rather than medical companies) producing biometric devices for the general population?
Edelson: The pro is that they tend to be more straight-forward and user friendly. However, on the other hand, medical companies may produce devices with more accuracy and precision due to stricter protocols and procedures.
TPP: What type of regulatory oversight do you think should be applied to consumer mHealth technology and devices?
Edelson: There should be regulations surrounding the storage of medical data, including how it's stored and who has access to it. There should be mandated privacy standards in place.
TPP: How can doctors stay informed of the best apps for their patients to use?
Edelson: Doctors should stay informed of the general technology news, as new advancements are made every day.
Karen M. Rider, M.A. is a freelance writer with special interests in wellness, health psychology, healthcare news and integrative medicine.