mHealth – what is the path forward?

mhealthI’m only getting started in learning about the mHealth community and applications.  But from the (limited) amount I can gather about this somewhat distributed ecosystem, it seems to be this:

1.  Lots of mHealth Apps out there.  
2.  Many designed without serious clinical input (i.e. mediocre or wrong information)
3.  Many designed without attention to UI (user interface) or UX (user eXperience).
4.  Apps that require you to plug in EVERYTHING to a database suggest a failure of design.
5.  Few real users.

That’s why we’re not seeing a ton of mHealth apps exploding on the marketplace and multiple IPO’s.  Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh here, as we just might be early to the game.  But where is the end result?

Problems:
1.  Lip service aside, no one wants to PAY for wellness.  And more concerningly, there is no evidence that wellness works (1)
2.  Poor UI/UX, as described above.  
3.  No integration into patient portals or hospital EHR’s for the majority of users.  
4.  Data from apps not readily available to providers.
5.  No data from application to show that it is useful to clinicians.

Specifically targeting point #1 – aside from the motivated quantified health folks, how do we get the right app into the hands of the right people?  From my point of view, a progressive vertically integrated system – insurer – hospital – provider all rolled up into one – could target (hotspot) an area of cost excess or refractoriness in meeting ratios or a MU requirement.  Then, BUY the app & developers.  INTEGRATE it into the systems EMR in a way that the providers feel is useful and that should give a triple aim result.  Then DISTRIBUTE it to your hotspot in such a way that group members are motivated to use it & TRACK the results.  Win-win for everyone.

At the recent HIMSS 2014 conference, the bulk of the discussion of mHealth was on mobile data management to meet HIPAA compliance.  Sensible, but suggests that the critical mass for actual clinical applications is not there, despite recent FDA liberation of rules for health apps.  

Anyone more connected in the mHealth community want to disagree with me and educate me in the process?

Source: Reuters, RAND corp.

(1)http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/workplacewellnessstudyfinal.pdf