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April 10, 2014

Does your mobile phone keep you healthy?

EU mobile health survey to find how smartphones and ‘FitBit’ apps could improve wellbeing.

By Joe Curtis

The EU today launched a consultation into mobile health, to discover how people use smartphone apps and tablets to improve their wellbeing.

Part of the commission’s Digital Agenda, the survey will seek to establish how products like the FitBit app and other health apps such as ones monitoring blood pressure can make healthcare more efficient, and give more control to the patient as well as boosting the app economy.

Commission VP Neelie Kroes, who heads up the agenda, claimed mHealth could reduce hospital visits and lead to a policy of prevention rather than cure.

She added: "It is also a great opportunity for the booming app economy and for entrepreneurs.

I personally use a sports-band on my wrist to measure how active I am from day to day, so I am a great supporter of mHealth already.
"Please send us your input into this consultation to help us become global leaders in this fascinating area."

The EU is seeking responses from public health authorities, health professionals, app users and developers as well as web entrepreneurs on the use of medical apps.

Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg added: "mHealth has a great potential to empower citizens to manage their own health and stay healthy longer, to trigger greater quality of care and comfort for patients, and to assist health professionals in their work.

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"As such, exploring mHealth solutions can contribute to modern, efficient and sustainable health systems."

Wearable technology like Google Glass has already been used in a number of ways to improve health.

Newcastle University researchers are using Glass to prompt people with Parkinson’s to swallow their food and take their medication.

A surgeon wearing Glass was recently able to quickly access a patient’s medical records while performing surgery on an injury causing internal bleeding in the brain.

Glass allowed him to spot an allergy to blood pressure medication that could have resulted in death.

Dr. Steve Horng said: "Google Glass enabled me to view this patient’s allergy information and current medication regimen without having to excuse myself to log in to a computer, or even lose eye contact."

To take part in the EU consultation, which runs until July 3, please click here.

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