Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Will physicians "prescribe" medical apps for patients?

Medical apps are a hot topic these days.  In 2009, medical apps were estimated to be worth $41 million dollars and in just one short year, 2010 showed revenues of $84.1 million dollars.

With this medical technology space booming, many companies are making bold statements that physicians, pharmaceuticals, and hospitals will be the future medical app dispensers for all patients.

But should we let this happen?

Imagine how practicing physicians do it now for medications.  If you're like most doctors, you have certain drugs you like to use for condition X, Y, and Z.  Even though there are many different drugs to treat it.  If one drug doesn't work, we prescribe a different drug until something does.
Is that how it's going to be with medical apps where we have patients buy an app based on our personal preference?  If it doesn't work, we say, "I'm sorry, buy this other app instead and give it a try."

You can foresee how competitive the space will become and soon I'll be getting free pens, calendars, and coffee mugs from medical app developers encouraging me to "prescribe" their app.

Let the people crowd source and find the app they need based on user opinions.  Consider Yelp.  It's a website that lists a ton of businesses and people write reviews from their experience.  People browsing Yelp for which restaurant to spend their money on will base their decision on the opinions of others.  It's not governed by the Better Business Bureau or managed by the businesses themselves.  This allows for healthy competition, transparent accounting of negative reviews, and opportunities for the businesses to get better, change, or fail as a result.  Medical apps should be the same.


Dr. Thuc Huynh is CEO of ScrubdIN, a startup company that aims to help health professionals choose their next medical app.  Her main interest lies around how medicine can play a role with web 2.0 and social media.  Dr. Huynh is currently Chief Resident at her Family Medicine Residency in Rapid City, SD and received her B.S. and M.D. at the Medical University of the Americas.  

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