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Med Tech Roundup: The Amazing Accidential Apple Health Care Revolution

While policymakers and DC wonks were debating top-down reforms to our health care system, a health care revolution was quietly taking place. Daily Finance reports on how Apple technology, while not originally designed with health care applications in mind, has already begun to transform the industry:

Use of Apple’s products goes beyond serving as a reference tool, though. An application that allows radiologists to view MRIs as well as CT, PET, and SPECT scans on iPhones and iPads received FDA approval in 2011. More recently, the FDA cleared the way for privately held Welch Allyn to connect its portable ophthalmoscope to an iPhone for doctors to view retinal images using the company’s app […]

Another app, SkinVision, allows individuals to take pictures of moles and other skin conditions and receive an instant analysis of risk using an algorithm that dermatologists helped develop. SkinVision helps the person find a dermatologist if needed.

The key point here is the way in which Apple, and similar companies, are developing techs that will radically transform the delivery of health care services. The tenor of our national conversation on health care makes it seem like the most important thing to figure out about health care is who pays, and how. That matters. But the delivery of services also matters. It’s in large part because our current delivery system is so dysfunctional that costs are so high.

To get a sense of how radically delivery could be altered in the future by Apple, read this piece from the AP on how smartphone physicals are become a real possibility:

By hooking a variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete physical — without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor’s office. Blood pressure? Just plug the arm cuff into the phone for a quick reading. Heart OK? Put your fingers in the right spot, and the squiggly rhythm of an EKG appears on the phone’s screen. Plug in a few more devices and you could have photos of your eardrum (Look, no infection!) and the back of your eye, listen to your heartbeat, chart your lung function, even get a sonogram.

The benefits of this will be enormous, dropping the costs of care in tons of different ways. No longer will patients have to make costly trips to the doctor’s office for basic checkups or routine primary care. A lot of expensive traditional medical equipment will become obsolete as its functions get aggregated into cheap smartphone-like devices. And this is all without even changing the way we pay for care.

Exciting times are ahead of our health care system.

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  • Jim Luebke

    If someone uses their iPhone improperly to misdiagnose a serious illness, who do they sue?

    But seriously, doesn’t an iPhone have kind of a small screen for adequate diagnostics?

  • Steve Jenks

    Great stuff, but who pays and how they pay is integral to driving adoption of advanced “personal” medical apps, etc. A consumer-driven payment system as opposed to our current government mandated third party insurance structure will incent and speed adoption of efficient cost-saving developments.

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