FDA regulation of mobile health apps: A prescription for growth?

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — What if Moore's law — meaning the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits would double every two years — applied to healthcare applications? That actually was all the talk earlier this year at the TedMed conference, at least according to a blog written by Dave Copeland, a well-vetted business and technology journalist. One of the disincentives to the kind of robust healthcare app development that would exemplify Moore's law expressed by TedMed attendees was regulation, as in the lack of regulation would "discourage risk-taking and innovation." 

(THE NEWS: Kaiser Health News: Legislation to be introduced to create new FDA office overseeing mobile health apps. For the full story, click here.)

So creating a new Food and Drug Administration division to regulate the development of mobile health apps might become the big boon in what has already become a big business.

The actual devices that will house those mobile health apps is increasing in penetration across all demographics. As of September 2012, 45% of American adults have a smartphone, according to statistics culled from Pew Internet and American Life Project. And half of U.S. adult cell phone owners now have apps on their phones.

According to Pew's research, smartphones are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18 to 29 years own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them. And young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment.

The future of how health care is delivered or monitored could be on the drawing board of an app developer even today. What do you think? How do you think an FDA commitment to regulating mobile health apps would impact the industry? Drop me a line at mcjohnsen@hotmail.com.

(To check out Copeland's blog, click here.) 

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