The mobile health industry has been a slow-moving beast as both doctors and patients learn to accommodate new methods and technologies in healthcare. Mobile health applications have not taken off like many in the health tech world had anticipated; a study done in October of last year by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found that over 50% of mobile health applications are downloaded fewer than 500 times — a discouraging number for mobile health enthusiasts. But the global push for more web-connected health technologies is on the rise, despite its glacial pace.
The Ministry of Health in Dubai has recently created an agreement with UAE-based telecom companies Etisalat and du in the hopes of collaborating for the increased development of mobile health technologies for UAE citizens. The UAE is one of the most obese regions of the world, and the MoH is aiming to use mobile health tools to curb the growing risks of diabetes and an increasing overweight generation of children. The mobile efforts will be a part of the Obesity Control Programme, and ideally help doctors assist patients remotely and monitor conditions without patients having to come into medical offices.
While these projects will launch for mobile devices that will largely be smartphones and tablets for now, the new push towards wearable technology could hold much potential for furthering the efforts of mobile health initiatives. Devices that track numbers of steps, heart rate, and calories burned have existed for years, but big names like Google and Apple have been creating wearable devices that are seemingly meant to be every-day mobile, web-connected items that could play a role in the future of mobile health.
Google Glass doesn’t seem like the most practical item, but its recently revealed contact lens technology promises prescription lenses on the internet-connected. With vision aids and a partnership with the U.S.’s biggest vision care provider VSP, this brings Google Glass out of the realm of the niche device, and more into the scope of the layman. Apple’s iWatch is rumored to incorporate a design that is ideal for people tracking personal health, while the company itself has reportedly hired a full-fledged team of medical engineers and experts to work on health-related technologies.
Perhaps the new era of wearable technology that is being ushered in by these global tech giants will give mobile health the boost it needs to continue making its way into the lives of people the world over.