Smartphones and Health, Chronicle of an Announced Pairing

Facebook has purchased Moves, Apple not for hire biotechnologists, Samsung took out a mobile phone which measures heart rate. Did you know that there are more than 100,000 health applications in mobile tents? 70% are directed to consumers while 30% were developed for health professionals.

We review how smartphones are gradually breaking into the health sector and we believe that mobile health, abbreviated mHealth in English, represents a very important market for developers and manufacturers.

A market of 17,600 million euros

In homage to the novel by Gabriel García Márquez, start by what will happen. He says the European Commission that there will be between now and 2017 1,700 million people using health applications on their smartphones. I.e., half of all those who have a smart phone then and nearly a quarter of the estimated world population.

By then, calculated that mobile health market will be worth €17.600.000.000. 30% of the cake will be in Europe, another 30% in Asia, 28 per cent in the United States, by 7% in Latin America and finally 5% in Africa.

Why there is so much demand

The proverb puts it: because it is better to prevent than cure. Mobile health streamlines our health systems. Think of a context as the future of Spain, with an ageing population and all budgetary pressure on a reduced workforce. Especially in that situation, mobile health contributes to a more effective health and less saturated query system.

Mobile health allows the Prevention of diseases and help physicians and patients to learn more about their State of health, with tools for telemedicine and self-diagnosis. In a few years, all take on a smart phone, a tablet or wearable technology. Mobile health will help us to better evaluate our health and even chronic diseases at an early stage of development.

In short, there is demand from health professionals because they can use reliable data about the health of their patients to make, in less time, better diagnoses, and finally give them the best possible treatment. And besides there is demand by patients because they take control of their health and of a healthy lifestyle, they can review their history and their statistics, and that motivates them.

Image | Wall Street Journal

Current status: health vs. fitness

While health monitor and monitor a healthy lifestyle seem to much, in the environment of mobile health there is a barrier between them and the hardware puts it. Any smartphone with an app store can give us food tips, count the calories we burn, reminding us that we should take the pill… But if we want to measure vital signs as the heart rate, the level of blood glucose, blood pressure, body temperature, brain, or activity even the steps we take in a precise way, in the majority of cases will have to invest in accessories.

These accessories are often very specialized, although not necessarily expensive. For example, we can buy a glucose iHealth monitor with iPhone app for $25. Meter synchronized with wireless phone and, through the application, diabetics can lead a rigorous registration of your glucose levels, its weight and the consequences of its power.

While monitor health and monitor a healthy lifestyle seem much, in the environment of mobile health there is a barrier between them and the hardware puts it

On the other hand we have the personal quantification, a way to turn on game or gamify our physical state. It started with applications such as RunKeeper, Endomondo and Runtastic, designed to share and compete with other people, by measuring our careers; then, large and small companies looked at the reef and pulled it with the bracelets quantifier: Fuelband Nike, Fitbit, Withings and Samsung with its Gear Fit. To learn more about this, best read in Xataka «Yes, I I quantified and works: this is my story».

What we’ll see now is a distinction less evident among quantify and monitor our health. With companies and small startups looking for a slice of the pie of the mobile health, we will pass measure distances to measure health.

Samsung, S Health to the heart rate monitor on your mobile

Samsung introduced S Health along with Galaxy SIII in response to health accessories that had emerged in the iPhone ecosystem, and it has been developed into a full-featured Center to monitor our physical state. S Health is compatible with a multitude of peripherals, such as measuring body fat, glucose, blood pressure and bracelets with Samsung pedometer.

But Samsung had not bet so strong on S Health and mobile health as it did with the presentation of the S5 Galaxy, which includes a heart rate sensor. It is integrated into the back of the phone and leverages the flash to view keystrokes in your finger. In addition, the S5 integrates a pedometer that leverages S Health to make a continuous monitoring of our activity: distance traveled, speed, duration, calories lost…

Apple, the M7 to Healthbook coprocessor

With the 5S iPhone, Apple introduced a second processor, small and efficient, which would only measure movement. Through the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass, chip M7 quantifies our activity and access to the ecosystem of mobile health applications that record, without wasting battery and giving us more accurate metrics.

But the Big Apple bet by mobile health is coming and has a date: we will see 8 IOS on 2 June. If filtration 9to5mac is true – and seems it – in a few weeks we will know officially Healthbook, Apple’s S Health. A colorful application that somehow shall keep a record of our activity, pulse, hydration, blood pressure, nutrition, sugar in blood, sleep, breathing rate, saturation of oxygen and weight.

Still do not know how to measure those vitals, if with hardware integrated on the mobile, wearable technology or peripheral. Of course, and given that Apple to hire experts in biotechnology, worth watch for WWDC 2014.

Image | Gizmodo

Google and the failure of Google Health

The great breakthrough of Google mobile health is that the ecosystem of mHealth in Android Now you can match the iOS. Although most recognized accessories were first launched with exclusive support for the iPhone, the majority has been coming to Android, as Withings or Wahoo Fitness products.

On the other hand, Google has taken the long wait of the iWatch to stay ahead of Apple in wearable technology. Although Google Glass does not have much to do with mobile health for now, Android Wear and smart watches open a world of possibilities to Android in terms of quantification of physical activity.

But the Google relationship with mobile health could be much more important to have them operated Google Health, a free online service allowing users to record their medical history and have detailed information about centralized health (perhaps more useful in health systems as the of United States than in Spain). But Health did not work (not reached a critical mass of users), Google closed it in January 2012 and erased all the data recorded in January 2013.

Microsoft and Facebook, waiting for the train

Although Microsoft has not shown even their cards for mobile health, has two notable assets. On the one hand, Microsoft HealthVault, the platform to centralize and share with the medical history (the Google Health of Microsoft), and on the other Bing Health & Fitness, an application for Windows and Windows Phone that records activity and power of the user, tries to give us a diagnosis if we describe it a medical condition, and includes educational animations about anatomy. A good point is that the history of HealthVault can synchronize with Bing Health & Fitness.

Regarding Facebook, good, we have the purchase of Moves. An application for iOS and Android that automatically records all the movements of the user without the use of peripherals and displays them very visually detecting when was walking, when running, when cycling, etc. Facebook does not want to be left behind when the mHealth market explode, and Moves is a very simple way to quantify the exercise.

Venture capital makes eyes at the mHealth

Mobile health is one of the advantages of venture capital. Only in the first three months of 2014 they invested more than $ 700 million in mHealth, according to the startups of Rock health Accelerator.

An interesting startups such example is Azoi Inc., creators of Wello. It’s a shell for the phone with four sensors that measure blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen level and body temperature. It is simple, while it is only a cover, compatible with iPhone 5 and 5S, which receives information from our fingers and connects via Bluetooth to the phone. Slope 145 euros in presale.

Only in the first three months of 2014 were invested more than 700 million dollars in mHealth

The future of mobile health

The European Commission has three problems on the table for the development of mobile health applications. First of all, the legal framework: Governments have a legality well defined for this type of technology, and manufacturers and developers usually are unaware of their legal limitations. Secondly, the data protection; Obviously, our health is not something we want to share with third parties. Thirdly, the incompatibility between mHealth and already established health systems.

And the fourth, knowing that actually works. That if we make an investment in a device or application of mobile health, give us reliable data about our health and help us really to lead a healthy lifestyle.