When Mobile Applications and Pharmacy Informatics Cross Paths

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Mobile apps, big data, and other technologies have a lot to offer the pharmaceutical industry. In the future, doctors and pharmacists may not have as much direct interaction with patients face to face, as technology will stand in the gap, informing medical professionals of their patients’ status and allowing computers to take over much of the diagnostic work. Doctors can then prescribe the right treatments, and pharmacists can make the medications available even outside of normal business hours. What are these innovative new technologies, and how are they changing the healthcare industry?

Diagnosing Medical Issues Without a Doctor’s Visit

Many common ailments are easily identified by a series of symptoms, and these symptoms can sometimes be identified and assessed by a smartphone app. The Michael J. Fox Foundation recently awarded a grant to Lionsolver, which was able to use the money to develop an app that is capable of identifying patients with Parkinson’s disease. The app is also accurate in predicting the progression of patients with this diagnosis over the next 90 days.

Other diagnostic smartphone apps include those which can identify melanoma, though this particular app needs some revisions to become as accurate as it needs to be. This app has already launched in the UK market. The MyGenome app for iPhones carries a given patient’s full genome profile, and is able to predict how the patient will respond to medications so that doctors and pharmacists can get the person the best possible prescription.

Monitoring Medical Issues Without a Doctor’s Visit

Cardiac monitoring apps are able to record and transmit a patient’s ECG readings in real-time, so that doctors and pharmacists can respond immediately if the patient needs to adjust their medicine or seek additional treatment. A new type of contact lens changes colors as a patient’s glucose levels fluctuate, alerting the wearer that they need to adjust their insulin intake.

Smart pills are able to be programmed to give only the amount of medication a patient needs, or even to dispense the medication at a particular place within the patient’s digestive system for optimal results. Some doctors and pharmacists use automated SMS messages to remind patients with HIV to take their medications and to keep their medical appointments.

Monitoring Medical Issues Across Groups of People

These technologies are also useful for keeping up with populations of people, not just individual patients. For example, data collected from Google and Twitter users helps the CDC identify and track outbreaks of influenza before the medical professionals are able to recognize what’s going on. The CDC and other medical professionals can use this data to route needed medical supplies to hard hit communities.

Monitoring Medical Issues Within the Aging Population

As the population ages, the medical industry struggles to provide enough nursing home and assisted living facilities to accommodate those in need. But wireless assisted living technologies allow many patients to stay home and stay safe, as wireless monitoring keeps track of their well-being and reports their status to their medical professionals. Pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and other medical staff can monitor elderly patients from home, so that patients can stay at home longer and medical personnel don’t have to contend with overcrowded medical facilities.

The University of Illinois at Chicago offers a Master’s in Health Informatics & Health Information Management Degree that covers all of the innovative technological trends within the medical industry. This program is ideal for learning how the fields of technology and medicine are converging to provide better care at lower costs for patients in this new age of healthcare.

Image via Flickr by easylocum