SIIM 2013: Mobile, Mobile, and more Mobile!

Publish date: 10 Jun, 2013

Mobile applications and mHealth in general was a huge topic at the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting this year, in line with the increasing usage of smartphones and tablets for both consumers and medical professionals. Digital MedTech Physician, for example, cited in 2011 that approximately 40% of physicians surveyed were using a tablet device for professional purposes.
There is plenty of interest in mHealth, but with it comes many challenges, as outlined in several sessions at SIIM 2013. At the Medical Imaging There's an App for That! session, key challenges for mobile medical imaging such as lack of proper quality control and calibration for mobile displays, inconsistencies between different devices in a BYOD environment, and of course, security, were highlighted. The calibration argument in particular was interesting, given the current dominance of iOS, a fairly closed mobile operating system. Whereas in a Windows PC environment, developers can access display settings to calibrate monitors, the display settings on an iPad or iPhone aren't nearly as accessible. The solution for now, as one particular company pointed out, was to modify the display settings of the application, not the device.
Another interesting argument posed was Android vs. iOS (vs. Windows sort of). Medical professionals significantly prefer iOS devices and they are easy to develop for specifically because Apple keeps such tight control on iOS. This consistency doesn't occur however with Android, and poses a significant problem for developers looking to get FDA approval for their Android app. For patient/consumer applications though, Android is the key operating system to develop for, especially in emerging markets such as China where Android phones are the majority. This mobile OS dichotomy is just one of many considerations as vendors develop mobile applications, but will be particularly important in terms of boosting mobile adoption of healthcare solutions.

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