Can Apps Help Reform the Healthcare System?


It is widely accepted that Internet-enabled health applications have the potential to provide better information to consumers but can they play a role in changing the health system at large? Recent reporting by the Health Care Blog and Health Data Management provide some insights here.

Many people believe in the power of apps to transform healthcare. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently awarded $100,000 to Symcat, a multi-functional symptom checker developed by two Johns Hopkins medical students. Symcat provides a diagnosis, information about different providers in the area, and estimated treatment costs.

At the Health Data Initiative Forum in June 2012, more than 1,500 attendees came together to discuss how consumer-friendly data could disrupt old ways of delivering health care information. The federal government is facilitating these efforts in an aggressive campaign to open up government healthcare data to the private sector. Health information from government institutes, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, is currently being used by the private sector to develop applications to predict asthma attacks, develop improved survival estimates for cancer patients, and treat diabetes more effectively.

More than 30% of Americans currently use health-related blogs or apps and the field of consumer health IT is booming. In the last two years, investments in healthcare apps have increased 78%. According to a report by Kalorama Information, medical apps are expected to grow 25% annually in the next five years.

Liberating healthcare data from government databases and allowing entrepreneurs and developers the opportunity to compile and present this information in consumer-friendly ways has incredible potential transform the way consumers receive healthcare.

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