News came this week that a man accused of defrauding a financial group out of close to a million dollars around an investment in a fictional mobile medical device tablet is scheduled to sign a plea agreement admitting that he committed mail fraud. The man, Howard Leventhal, had been promoting the Star Trek-influenced McCoy Home Health Care Tablet as a device that can instantaneously deliver detailed patient information to medical providers. (The product is discussed on the company’s still-surviving web site here.) He was arrested for the fraud in October and has been out on bail.
The interesting thing about this case is that the fake he was perpetrating isn’t very far removed from reality regarding the role mobile apps and systems will play in healthcare. There of course are plenty of mobile apps already available that help users do everything from monitoring their hearts to recording their blood-oxygen level during the night to see whether they have sleep apnea. Research and Markets, for example, says the wireless health market currently will grow to nearly $60 billion by 2018, up from $23.8 billion, with remote patient monitoring applications and diagnostics helping to drive the growth. But where things really get interesting is when mobile health takes on questions of semantic interoperability of accumulated data, and assessing its meaning.