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Investors are always looking for the “next big thing.” Business Insider, in a recent report, suggested the mobile health apps industry might be worth considering.

Statistics support that notion with BI pointing out skyrocketing health care costs and the fact that health-related spending in the U.S. makes it one of the five or six largest economies in the world.

Consumers today are better informed when it comes to their own health care than in years past. Much of that thanks to unprecedented access to information over the Internet. Availability of data, combined with the convenience afforded by smartphones and tablets, are creating knowledgeable consumers who typically conduct research both before and after visiting the doctor.

Enter app developers – specifically those dedicated to customized applications and devices focused on health care. BI said there are about 100,000 health applications now available. That translates to almost four million free and 300,000 paid daily downloads.

This statistic was echoed by mobile operator, Greatcall, which uses the Verizon (NYSE: VZ) owned Verizon Wireless network. In a recent infographic Greatcall asked: Is Mobile Health Care the Future? The answer, according to Greatcall, seemed to be “Yes.”

Numbers reflected in Greatcall’s collected data are expected to grow as wearable computing, including fitness and activity trackers, become part of the landscape.

In addition, more and more enterprise organizations are doing all they can to encourage employee health and fitness through company-sponsored wellness programs.

The Affordable Care Act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, “creates new incentives and builds on existing wellness program policies to promote employer wellness programs and encourage opportunities to support healthier workplaces.”

Mobile health apps aren’t just for patients. Health care professionals are increasingly turning to smartphone apps to download and process patient records. News that IBM's (NYSE: IBM) famous Watson super computer will soon be available on smartphones, opens an entire world of diagnostic possibilities for patients and doctors alike.

Related: IBM's Watson Coming to Smartphones Soon

It doesn’t take a super computer to check your blood pressure, heart rate or glucose levels. All it takes is a wearable device connected to a smartphone that can transmit that information to medical professionals so they can determine if you need to come in.

Diagnosis isn’t the only area in which mobile apps could prove useful. Managing health care accounts, including payments and filling out paperwork, is already being handled by apps like Simplee and CakeHealth.

Other companies expected to have an impact as the mobile health care app space grows include some well-known names such as Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN), WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD) and Walgreen (NYSE: WAG).

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

Posted-In: Affordable Care Act athenahealth CakeHealth cernerNews Events Tech Media Best of Benzinga

 

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