In 2012, The smartphone application market is expected to reach 1.3 billion US dollars and 247 million smartphone users are expected to download an mHealth app. Healthcare insurers are now using apps to streamline patient-care systems, by connecting with and educating members, and ultimately reducing and controlling spiraling healthcare costs.
While other chronic conditions such as hypertension and obesity have larger populations, market researchers feel diabetes had the largest market potential due to the huge cost saving potential, the demographic & geographic overlap between smartphone users and diabetics and the real potential to improve sugar management using mobile devices. This is among the reasons why Research2Guidance has recently nominated diabetes as the condition most likely to be most targeted by mobile medical software and devices. Furthermore, it is believed that medical apps will be distributed by physicians and healthcare institutions in the near future.
In the past, insurance companies have sent out glossy health magazines to members, beefed up websites with wellness information, and offered classes on everything from weight loss to asthma management to urge members to make healthy lifestyle changes and take charge of chronic conditions. Insurers now plan to expand on these wellness initiatives by targeting members more directly through smartphones and tablets. As a result of fostering well-being and efficiency, insurers could help lower the burden on the healthcare system and save money.
As health insurance grows more complex, both doctors and patients need education and support to help the system work smoothly, and mobile apps can help insurers fill that need. However, insurers must tread cautiously as they enter the mobile realm, emphasizing privacy protection, member safeguards, and adherence to strict medical guidelines, in an effort to avoid alienating members or providers and reduce the risk of potential legal repercussions down the road.
Full Story by Mobiledia on Forbes