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Mobile shakes up healthcare industry with real-time data: Forrester

One of the industries that stands to benefit the most from mobile technology is the healthcare industry, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.

Mobile helps healthcare professionals connect to a cloud-based system for real-time data and more efficiency, as well as more consumer engagement. The report, ?mhealth Illustrates New Business Opportunities? takes a look at how to leverage mobile to achieve positive benefits in healthcare businesses.

?Mobile has the potential to have a bigger impact in healthcare and wellness than any other industry,? said Julie Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, San Francisco. ?There is no other category where the stakes are higher - both from a human and a business perspective.? 

Forrester interviewed 47 vendor, technology and user companies for this report.

Pharmaceutical firms, insurance companies, healthcare providers, governments and consumers have already embraced mobile to engage with patients and consumers in their everyday lives. This helps lower costs and increases convenience for all relevant parties.

First of all, building a mobile app to gather, interpret and display information is a lot cheaper than building proprietary hardware with a display, graphics chip, microprocessor and operating platform. 

Additionally mobile provides constant means of connecting through 3G, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It makes it easier to collect and send data.

The report looked at a few different examples of how mobile has already benefited the healthcare industry.

MyFitnessPal, a weight loss app, has helped its users lose more than 100 million pounds by helping them count calories, track their progress and get support from friends.

Another fitness app, RunKeeper has helped its users run 783.3 million miles and burn 78.3 billion calories. Similarly, Strava users moved 1.4 billion kilometers in 2013.

Jawbone has leveraged mobile to help consumers get better sleep, with its users clocking in 35 million nights of sleep. The app connects to a wristband that gathers information about how consumers sleep, move and eat to help them make better decisions.

There are also some attachments for smartphones that can allow consumers to easily determine their heart rate and blood-oxygen levels from the comfort of their own homes. Pixie Scientific even puts chemicals into diapers that turn colors, which a smartphone app can then interpret to detect dehydration or urinary tract infections early. 

By combining mobile technology and sensor innovation, healthcare companies are able to collect data in an unprecedented way. The ability to collect this information in real-time helps professionals and consumers make better decisions.

Mobile also helps add incentives to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Companies can add rewards and gamification to motivate consumers to eat healthier or exercise more.
Some healthcare mobile examples

Marketing implications
Leveraging all sorts of mobile technology, healthcare companies can help consumers make better choices and improve customer experiences, while at the same time gathering data to help drive sales.

Healthcare professionals can then leverage that data in real-time for immediate communication with consumers, or they can aggregate long-term trends. They can compare data from different consumers to create new insights as well.

The Forrester report advises rewarding customers for being low-cost, basing pricing on actual performance and offering personalize pricing packages. It also suggests offering rewards and incentives to motivate consumers.

Gamification and a sense of community can also help consumers meet their goals via mobile.

?People ?talk? about how consumers and providers alike need to be held accountable for the cost and effectiveness of healthcare,? Ms. Ask said. ?Mobile technologies and sensors make this doable.?

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York