Will your Phone Diagnose and Treat you?

Mobile Phone DiagnosisAccording to cnn.com, some day soon your phone will tell you what ails you and then provide treatment. While the idea sounds like something out of a movie, the technology has the potential to revolutionize the health and wellness arenas.

There are already postage stamp-sized sensors that you place on the body to monitor insulin levels. Fitbug has a device that is a calorie counter, a blood pressure monitor and a scale that sends data to an app. A DNA analysis service allows you to mail away a saliva sample. In return, you receive information about your genetic traits, disease risk and ancestry.

Self-tracking seems to be the new trend. Some call it a movement. I have to wonder if only the “gearheads” and ultra fit are using the technology currently, but I can see the day when health care systems use self-tracking, especially since they are moving from not only treating sick patients, but also to helping healthy people stay healthy. Consumers are interested in self-monitoring and managing their own care at home even though only a small number of healthcare systems are setup to support such tracking.

What does this mean for the healthcare system marketer? How will marketers help push the technology out to the community at large and incentivize people who aren’t interested to be more proactive about their health? Some say insurance companies could pay patients to use tracking technology. Maybe a reward system (frequent user card) could lead to greater usage, which could lead to new healthy living habits on the part of the consumer.

Perhaps healthcare systems will provide their own branded app for disease monitoring or healthy living. Cleveland Clinic, who is always on the leading edge, markets its sleep disorder center via a sleep tracking app that helps you monitor your sleep habits, gives you a sleep score and a brief explanation of the score. If you choose to upgrade to the $2.99 version, you’ll get even more data to help you improve your “quantity and quality” of sleep.

The learning curve that comes with these new monitoring technologies could overwhelm the elderly population who will account for the larger share of health problems. Marketers will need educational materials that can aid consumers with setup and use. The frustration levels with technology will need to stay low to boost usage.

Digital could play an important part of the solution to the healthcare dilemmas society faces with an aging population and rising long-term chronic issues. What positives and negatives do you foresee with using mobile devices to help treat patients between care visits?


Hi. We’re Jennings. We’re in Durham, North Carolina and we live and breathe healthcare marketing.

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