Mobile health is a slowly expanding industry; many regions are beginning to look to digital health services as viable options for delivering vaccinations to remote places. Mobile vaccine vans have been launched in Kashmir to deliver medicine to families who would otherwise be unable to reach medical services. Mobile health applications are a growing focus for software developers. The internet of things is spawning the creation of gadgets that can perform medical tests remotely and transfer the information to medical professionals. Even Google has developed a contact lens that measures a user’s glucose levels through his or her tears. And now another giant has joined the fray: Samsung has partnered with the University of California, San Francisco to develop new digital health technologies — specifically new “sensors and algorithms” according to the company.
VISUAL CONTEXT: MOBILE HEALTH’S GROWTH
No doubt Samsung is looking towards the profit to be pulled from gaining a foothold in such a burgeoning industry that holds much potential for the proliferation of new technologies across the world. But it will likely be some time before any one company can say it is at the top of the mobile health game. Challenges lie in wait including interoperability of medical devices on the patient end and the professional end as well as lack of public policy and government regulation for mobile health software.
Samsung is in a solid place to explore opportunities in the digital health arena; its project with UCSF begins with a digital health innovation lab designed to test new products and expedite their commercialization. The South Korean company has been at the forefront of the wearable technology scene — a sector of tech that will play a huge role in the growth of mobile health tech. UCSF’s associate vice chancellor for Informatics Michael Blum stated:
There are many new sensors and devices coming onto the market for consumers, but without medical validation, most of these will have limited impacts on health. Meanwhile, many practitioners also have creative ideas for new devices, but they lack the technological knowledge to fully develop them. This partnership will bring together these two very different worlds of expertise with the resources needed to accelerate new and disruptive technologies that will truly change lives.