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3 Ways Smartphones—and Startups Using Them—Are Disrupting Health Care

Peter Lougee

Energy Columnist, 1776

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in everyday lives, with mobile games such as Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds providing distraction to millions of users. Now, though, companies and startups are leveraging the technology of smartphones to innovate in the health care market.

Polygon writes of a truly revolutionary mobile game launched by Cancer Research U.K. The game, Play to Cure: Genes in Spacepresents a classic arcade game-style interface, but it actually helps scientists to analyze data generated from the user to diagnose early signs of cancer. How? Through the analysis of genetic microarrays identified through gameplay. Cancer Research U.K. claims that just two minutes of game play per day will give them enough data to bring science “forward [to] the day when all cancers are cured.”

The use of smartphones in health care doesn’t stop with mobile games. TechCrunch reports on startup Glooko, which aims to use smartphone technology to help people with diabetes, which Glooko says is a “population underserved by advances in mobile technology.” Due to the requirement of constant monitoring, patients with diabetes have need of the ability to transfer important healthcare data between multiple devices—a service that Glooko provides by supporting the transfer between 26 glucose meters and 28 types of mobile device.

TechCrunch also reports on First Opinion, a health care startup that uses mobile phones in a third, but very familiar way: SMS text messaging. Seeking to address the problem of long lines and primary care access, First Opinion allows users to text connected doctors any time, day or night. The doctor is chosen based upon user-defined preferences, and users can begin their first, text-based exchange free of charge. First Opinion even complies with HIPAA rules by anonymizing the users but allows the option for a user to share as much information as they choose through the application.

As mobile phones become increasingly powerful, so will the amount and type of data that can be gathered or the strength of connections that can be formed between individuals. Startups should always take note of the options available to them through mobile phones, and use those capabilities to innovate in the marketplace.

Peter Lougee

Energy Columnist, 1776

Peter is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer with a Master's Degree in Public Policy from American University. In addition to startups, Peter likes coffee, books and whiskey.

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