In an industry as new as mobile health there are plenty of opportunities to announce a “first”. “The first medical app to do ‘x’” could be a tagline for a great number of the thousands of apps in appstores today. The second quarter of 2011, however, did bring a number of important milestones related to mobile health. Many of them are likely true “firsts,” but what will be more interesting is not that these apps and services now exist but whether they will eventually succeed.
Here’s a quick review of the highlights from these past three months:
Pfizer announced the “first FDA-approved” clinical drug trial that involves all electronic home-based reporting. It’s mobile-enabled, of course. More on that in the “Pharma” section of the report.
Medtronic claimed a first for its CareLink Mobile Application, which the medical device maker said was the very first smartphone app that connects to an implantable device. The app allows physicians to review Medtronic CareAlert transmissions and take action based on data from the patient’s implanted cardiac device. More on that in the “Care Providers” section in the report.
GreatCall, the mobile service provider that offers the Jitterbug phone service for seniors and others looking for an easy to use phone, launched their first iPhone app. MedCoach, a medication adherence app, marks a dramatic de- parture from the company’s core busi- ness. GreatCall is diversifying. More on this in the “Mobile Operators” review in the report.
Ford announced research partnerships with Medtronic, WellDoc and SDI to connect smartphone apps and personal health devices to select Ford automobiles. While it’s more likely that the services will become available in Ford cars in India before the US, they will come to market. That would be a first for mobile health integration in cars. More details are in the “Deals” appendix at the end of the report.
Dr. Naveep Tangri of Tufts Medical Center worked with medical app developer QxMD to claim a first for medical research and smartphone apps: Calculate by QxMD was the first app to be updated simultaneously as Tangri’s research paper was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While clearly a publicity stunt, the exercise demonstrated how superior apps are at provid- ing the most up to date clinical reference material. That’s a tough trick for the print publishers to pull off. More on Tangri’s stunt in the new “Research and Efficacy” roundup section in the report.
Firsts aside, the quarter also brought some closures. The most notable one: The shuttering of Google Health. Shortly before Google announced it was lights out for the PHR platform, Microsoft’s comparable offering, HealthVault, went mobile with a handful of app and mobile browser optimizations. Other milestones? Mobile health incubator Rock Health announced its first batch of startups. The app-centered iFund made its first health app investment and the FCC announced plans to extend the emergency alert system to the public’s mobile phones.