Future of mHealth Dependent on Interoperability and Use of Available Technology

My education in the healthcare industry is still somewhat in its infancy, but I really enjoy learning about mHealth in particular.  This probably stems from my general love of technology, but also from my fascination with business and watching companies and industries grow.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks with mHealth is there are way too many people developing products rather than businesses.

One of my favorite shows is Shark Tank which gives everyday people the opportunity to present their business to billionaires looking for an investment of some sort.  One of the most common comments the investors make is that the person has a product and not a business.  It is such a thin line but essential to true success.  Products of some sort are essential to a business, but they are not in and of themselves a business.

That is the problem with most of the companies in mHealth at this point.  There are tons of apps and gadgets and other fun things out there, but there is no one company that is trying to bring it all together.  Interoperability is the real basis of success in this industry.  Having to go to ten different companies for your healthcare needs is no different from what we have always had, except you are using electronics instead of paper.

While that is a step in the right direction, it is not the level of change that will be needed for real success in the industry.  There will inevitably be more companies that fail than succeed, as is the case in any industry.

The healthcare industry is very similar to aviation in this area.  The air traffic control system is essentially the same system that has been in use for decades.  While there have been great advances in technology, namely GPS, we still use the same archaic tools that keep the industry inefficient and cluttered.  Clearly major advancements have been implemented in terms of aircraft and related systems that make air travel faster and safer, but we are not even close to using all of the tools available.

There are plans in development to better use the improved tools that are available, but they have still not been widely implemented for numerous reasons.  Instead aviation remains inefficient and the consumer is the one who suffers in the form of increased costs with reduced service.

Healthcare is quickly following the same path.  While there have been amazing developments in the technology doctors use on a day-to-day basis, the system itself is still incredibly inefficient.

That being said, I have great hope that this will change in the coming years.  As more major companies like AT&T, Qualcomm, Verizon, etc. become involved in the industry we will start to see the real breakthroughs that will give mHealth its legitimacy.  What will be even more incredible is when some of these tech companies really link up with traditional healthcare companies that have real power in the industry.

About a decade ago eHealth companies were all the rage, and now they are all essentially gone.  While there is no guarantee that mHealth will not end up the same way, you have to think they stand a better chance.  Smartphones are an increasingly essential part of everyday life for almost everyone.  It only makes sense to include healthcare in that arena.

About the author

David Lynn

David Lynn


  • I agree there are tons of smart apps and gadgets that may have a practical application but without the integration (interoperatibility) needed to make them part of the IT infrastructure they become a difficult sell. It has taken the healthcare industry many years to integrate their basic legacy systems and that required years of simple standards (HL7, HIPAA, etc.). As most of us understand it will take the physician community to drive these apps and gadgets as practical solutions to improve the delivery of patient care.

  • Why is it that healthcare is so slow to adopt new standards and embrace new technology? I am not involved enough to know how quickly doctors adopt new machines or techniques, but it seems that they are painfully slow with updating even their record keeping. Is medicine just one of those industries that refuses to change until you force them to? Maybe it is because of the relative lack of choice that people have in healthcare. Even in big cities it isn’t like there is a hospital on every street corner, so you are inclined to go with whatever is close to where you live, and doctors have little incentive to improve their offerings. Then again maybe the real debate is whether new technologies are actually an improvement. Whatever it is, I agree that if the physician community does not get on board with an app or gadget it will never really be widely adopted.

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