Readers of Le Journal du Geek will surely not have missed this: an application called "Health" has appeared on all iPhones since the release of iOS 8. This dashboard allows you to clearly present all the data concerning your health and your physical fitness, collected by other health apps and / or smart health connected objects. Google has not been outdone with its “Google Fit” app, the equivalent available on Android smartphones and Android Wear watches.
The two American giants were not mistaken: the potential of the mobile health (or "mHealth") market is colossal. The research2guidance firm estimates that this market could weigh no less than 19 billion euros in 2017 worldwide. "The synergy between Apple, Google, developers of mobile applications and manufacturers of smart health connected objects is increasingly strong. We have set up a watch and research laboratory to evaluate mobile applications intended for the health world with our partners linked to this sector in order to produce innovative and quality solutions capable of meeting demand. ” confirms Chadi Abou Karam, director of Qualia Systèmes. In 2012, mSanté already represented almost 1 billion euros with more than 97,000 mobile applications identified and 300,000 paid downloads made each day.
Here are 5 examples of mHealth devices
Mobile applications and smart health connected objects for health and well-being are becoming essential. Here are some examples of the most remarkable innovations in the field today:
Lumo back (from Lumo BodyTech): Thanks to this belt placed around the waist and its integrated sensor, the user is warned by a vibration when the position of his back is bad. In addition, he can track the number of steps, the time spent standing and sitting or the positions he takes at night in real time on his smartphone.
UP24 (from Jawbone): This flexible, unattached bracelet allows you to measure the number of steps during the day and to track sleep at night. Permanently smart health connected to the smartphone via Bluetooth, this small object that works even in the shower, the bracelet being water resistant, can be forgotten.
Sensoria Fitness (from Sensoria): If you are running, you know that the support points are very important for developing a more efficient and less tiring stride. In addition to the number of calories burned and the running speed, these smart health connected socks offer a "heat map" representing the distribution of the body weight during strides, in order to analyze and perfect its running posture.
My Baby’s Beat (from Matis LTD): This mobile application allows you to monitoring a baby's heartbeat in his mother's womb using only the microphone of the smartphone and conventional headphones. What reassure all future parents who can even share on Facebook the heartbeat of the baby with their friends.
Sleep cycle (from Northcube): The Sleep Cycle app promises easy waking up at the most convenient time, that is, at the end of a cycle, during the micro-awakening phase. In practice, your sleep is analyzed according to your movements. So all you need is the smartphone in contact with your mattress and the accelerometer will do the rest.
What about personal data?
Watches, scales, blood pressure monitors and even smart health connected T-shirts, coupled with mobile applications, are all systems for capturing our personal data. This digitization of our own body and what we do with it is referred to as "quantified self", which is self-measurement. However, the business model of mHealth companies, beyond the sale of smart health connected objects, often relies on the monetization of personal data. These practices raise sensitive legal questions. Today, the collection and use of data by healthcare professionals is subject to a strict framework in France. But this is not the case with data falling under the "quantified self": there is no regulation … but reflection is underway at European level. The National Data Protection Commission (Cnil), in its second Innovation and Prospective Booklet entitled "The body, a new smart health smart health connected object", published in May 2014, looks in particular at the cases of South Korea and the United States.
These two countries distinguish personal health data according to whether it comes from health professionals or whether it relates to personal well-being. In the latter case, which relates to self-monitoring applications for sleep, nutrition or diabetes in particular, the legislation is less restrictive and the devices do not require the approval of the health regulatory authority. As far as European legislation is concerned, the Cnil offers some avenues for reflection. It is currently very difficult to distinguish between the types of data concerned, and protecting users from the disclosure of this sensitive information is a key issue. However, the professionals concerned can only hope for a fairly flexible regulation, which would not completely curb this promising market. Between these two tendencies which can seem antagonistic, the common objective must remain that of the benefits in terms of public health.
Users more enthusiastic than practitioners
The general public, as far as they are concerned, seems ready to trust smart health connected objects and mobile applications when it comes to their health. According to a study conducted by the international consulting firm PWC in 2013 with 1,000 patients and 433 doctors, 48% of patients with chronic diseases think that mobile health is capable of improving their state of health and the quality of care. On the other hand, the opinion is much more mixed on the side of practitioners. Still according to the same study, even if 27% of doctors advise their patients to use mobile health applications for their medical follow-up, 42% remain skeptical. These professionals are particularly worried about the excessive feeling of independence that these applications provide to their patients. The benefits of mobile health could, however, be very significant. PWC estimates that the generalization of mSanté applications would save 99 billion euros on the total amount of health spending in 2017 in the European Union.
The latest innovations discovered at CES
The last edition of the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) was rich in innovations related to smart health connected health. The VigiPen, for example, is a smart health connected syringe for diabetics manufactured by the company Vigilant. It measures the user's insulin level and the amount of insulin injected and transmits the data directly to the smartphone which then becomes a real log book to present to his doctor. We also discovered Belty, designed by emiota, a smart belt that counts your steps and measures your stomach measurement. The dedicated mobile application will advise you on the optimal level of activities. In addition, it detects your position and self-adjusts depending on whether you are standing or sitting. Finally, Medissimo imedicup is a medication aid device for the visually impaired. Thanks to a pill box with QR codes and a mobile application configured for the user's needs, the imedicup and its optical recognition device indicate the right box to the user by vibrating so that he takes the right medicines.
The Apple Watch, slated for release in April, also promises to take care of our health. Who knows what the apple brand has in store for us?
Article written by Bertrand Debeuf, Business Engineer at Qualia Systems.
Qualia Systèmes is an expert company in the development of mobile applications on smartphones and tablets (iOS, Android and Windows Phone).
Qualia won the 2015 Mobile Health Application for Health Professionals Trophy for its Musculoskeletal Ultrasound application.
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