Healthcare News & Insights

iPhone 5s expands possibilities for mobile health apps

Demand is growing for mobile health apps and other tools patients can use to manage their own care. And a feature in the iPhone 5s could lead to the development of even more of those apps. 

153446595When Apple announced the new iPhone 5s, many observers were disappointed that the company was releasing a new phone with only minor updates, rather than a significant overhaul.

But one feature the updated version does add is the inclusion of a new sensor called the M7 motion coprocessor, The Verge reports. That may sound like gibberish to most health care professionals, but basically, the M7 is a second processor that allows the phone to gather more data from its sensors, including the compass, GPS and the accelerometer, which detects movement.

This allows the phone to measure statistics like the distances a user walks or runs and other exercise-related data. Developers will be able to create new mobile health apps that track fitness data using the phone itself, rather than relying on pedometers and other devices. The first such app will be Nike+ Move, which Apple showcased during its announcement, with more examples on the way soon.

Growing mobile health market

In addition to advances in smartphone technology, the use of mobile health apps is also rising as providers make those tools more available to patients.

More providers are deploying mobile health apps such as remote monitoring tools and remote ultrasound services, according to a recent report from Juniper Research. The firm estimates that by 2018, there will be more than 96 million users of mobile health apps, more than six times the 15 million currently using those tools.

According to Juniper, the growth is happening so fast because those applications have a big benefit for both patients and providers. Patients want to use health and fitness apps in order to improve their own health, while providers will cut costs by keeping people healthier and performing more services remotely.

The healthcare industry is expected to save $35 billion through the use of the mobile health apps over the next five years, Juniper says.

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