Health apps presently of little use, says Australian telehealth expert

click to enlarge“Immature” and “focused on low-lying fruit such as fitness tracking and not focused on the big issues of management of disease” are also two of the compliments that Dr George Margelis of the University of Western Sydney’s TeleHealth Research & Innovation Laboratory (THRIL) has bestowed on the current state of health apps. Until the collected data ‘plugs into other digital platforms’–he mentions the Australian government’s PHR, eHealth–apps will not help those who need it the most. “Unfortunately, managing these diseases, in particular the chronic diseases that are a major part of the current burden, requires more than just tracking a few physical parameters which is what the app world is up to.” Dr Margelis called for collaboration between app developers and healthcare professionals; while he scores Apple’s HealthKit, that may be the means to make his vision come true. It should be noted that Dr Margelis is a certified Down Under ‘grizzled pioneer’, having worked from 2005 with Intel‘s Digital Health Group and later with Care Innovations to last year–and he has seen more than one hype cycle come and go. This Editor agrees that apps and their user appeal have a long way to go, and right now paired with wearables they are chronic generators of imprecise data [TTA 10 May] that drowning-in-EHRs-payer authorizations-and-paper doctors don’t want to see [TTA 18 Aug]. To quote from this article, ‘Data qua data does not magically transform, despite the hype.’ Sydney Morning Herald ITPro. Also see the discussion in David Doherty’s mHealth group on LinkedIn (membership required, but you should be one anyway); Mr Doherty and Dr Margelis debate. Certification of apps seems to be moribund for now in the US after Happtique’s failure; there may be hope in the UK where Editor Charles is quite on top of matters. We look forward to your comments here, as Dr Margelis is a Contributing Editor.

Also in Down Under news, the phone company Telstra is developing over-the-phone virtual consults with GPs. ReadyCare–ready within a 9-12 months–will provide over-the-phone GP services including diagnosis, prescriptions and specialist referrals in partnership with Switzerland’s Medgate. Telstra has also acquired HealthConnex, “a portfolio of software that supports the coordination and provision of health and community services and interoperability between health systems”‘; Medinexus, a secure e-health messaging system for radiology and pathology. It has also taken equity in others and in some cases is offering the services under license; and a partnership with the Northern Territory government to deliver rural remote specialist care. All for a cool $100 million investment. Sydney Morning Herald

 

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