By Laura Ruane, USAToday.com – We don’t use our smartphones for talking as much as we once did, but we are and will increasingly use them to detect and monitor health risks, from ear infections to E. coli bacteria in drinking water, industry experts say.Health app developers initially focused on consumer diet and exercise, said Brian Dolan, editor of Boston-based MobiHealthNews.com, which tracks advances in mobile health and medical technology. “Now we’re seeing them look into more serious health conditions where there’s a real need for innovation.”
Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, sees an “explosion” of mobile medical apps, and gives the trend a qualified endorsement. He’s an “iPhone guy” who uses about 20 medical or health-oriented apps.
“People want to be empowered to take care of their health,” Stream said. The devices and apps, Stream said, “certainly are not going to replace the need for a collaborative relationship with a family physician.”
One of the latest device-and-app creations to pass muster with the federal Food and Drug Administration is iBGStar, a blood glucose meter that attaches to iPhones or iPods for diabetes monitoring. It’s a product of Bridgewater, N.J.-based Sanofi, and sells at Apple retail stores and Walgreens drugstores for about $100 and $75, respectively.
Seattle-based Internet marketer James Daugherty snapped one up in the first week, and promptly tweeted about it to his Twitter followers who have diabetes.
“Not only does the app give you great information, the device is very small, about one-fourth to one-sixth the size of my old (blood glucose) monitor,” said Daugherty, a 33-year-old snowboarding and cycling enthusiast.
Several other smartphone-based medical monitoring devices are in various developmental stages: