A recent online survey sponsored by the wireless industry association CTIA found a similar level of interest in health-oriented apps. In the CTIA survey, 78% of respondents said that they were interested in mobile health products and services and 15% said that they were extremely interested in learning more. "This signifies that the awareness among the consumers regarding [mobile health] services is increasing, which has played an important role in the growth of the market," the RNCOS report said.
More than 72% of physicians in the U.S. are now smartphone users, according to the RNCOS report. And tablet devices are also catching on in the medical community: More than 20% of all U.S. physicians have iPads.
Healthcare apps for smartphones are one of the main reasons for this increased usage. There are already more than 10,000 mobile applications related to health, and about 40% of those are designed for healthcare professionals. That figure includes remote monitoring and healthcare management applications. Even Apple's iTunes store has about 6,000 mobile health apps.
As the mobile health market surges ahead, there is an emerging call within the medical community for a dedicated wireless spectrum for healthcare use. That spectrum would augment commercial mobile broadband networks, which have significant coverage gaps and face reliability issues.
Earlier this year, healthcare providers and the aeronautics industry association urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to approve a mobile body area network (MBAN) plan. The MBAN radio spectrum would create a wireless body sensor network for remotely monitoring critically and chronically ill people via small wireless devices. That would allow caregivers to track a person's health status and take swift action in any emergencies.
The American Telemedicine Association also has asked the FCC to consider setting aside small portions of spectrum for the exclusive use of healthcare professionals. No decision on the spectrum requests has yet been made.
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