BUBBLE AND HYPE:
THE REALITY OF HEALTH APPS The saying that “there’s an app for that” has quickly become a cliché, but that doesn’t mean there is not a lot of truth behind it. As health apps and fitness devices proliferate, it is timely to take a considered view of their relative worth and remember that in healthcare, it is the person, not the device, that is the lifesaver. DR GEORGE MARGELIS MBBS M.Optom GCEBus Adjunct Associate Professor University of Western Sydney email@example.com
I love my mobile phone and take it everywhere with me. I love it so much I have a spare one in case something happens to it so I can switch my SIM card and be back online in seconds. I don’t consider myself a Luddite, and judging by the number of gadgets in my home office my wife thinks I am trying to maintain the mobile electronics industry all by myself. I have an iPad, an Android tablet and a Windows Surface tablet, just in case one of them wins the tablet wars, as well as a notebook and two desktop computers, one a Mac and one a PC. However, I have become pretty good at recognising hype, probably because I have been burned by it so many times before.
About the author Dr George Margelis is a medical doctor with experience in software development and an interest in improving quality and delivery of healthcare utilising information technology. He is currently working with the TeleHealth Research & Innovation Laboratory to drive the adoption of telehealth as part of the healthcare available to all Australians.
Hype is not necessarily a bad thing. It usually correlates with passion, innovation, opportunities to make a profit and much more. However, I get a little upset about it in healthcare, because with the hype comes people who dream of their illness being cured, their suffering being lessened, their children being healthy. Those are noble goals we all should aim for, and it is heart wrenching when you see them taken away from people by hype. mHealth is currently full of a lot of hype. That’s not to say that there are not some good mHealth things out there. There are, and I use some of them every day. But when people become so enmeshed in
the hype that they have to verbally attack anyone who questions its value, I smell the bad side of hype, and I get worried. I do believe that mHealth can play an important role in healthcare, but only when it learns to interact with the whole system. It needs to integrate not only with the technology used, but the workflow and the culture.
Technology as a tool Healthcare is a complex interconnected industry, and delivering good healthcare is a complex task requiring knowledge, communication and skill. To deliver it we need the best tools available, and many people have become rich from developing such tools. However, healthcare is still delivered to people by people with the aid of tools. When I start to see headlines telling me that my phone will replace my doctor, that keeping track of my pulse and weight and a few other things will diagnose my diseases, despite the fact that in many diseases none of these variables change, I get a bit concerned, and so should you. It gets worse. When an IT company releases a “health platform” on its new phone that connects all your health data, but only on certain devices, and without telling me what health data it connects, I get even more concerned. The pictures are great, with charts which show me getting healthier by the day and smiling runners
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