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One in three US adults will buy a digital health product in 2013

One out of every three adults in the US will buy a digital health product of some kind in the next year, Gary Shapiro, the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), said — citing data from an upcoming CEA survey — during his luncheon keynote at HIMSS’ mHealth Summit this week.


Over the course of this past year the consumer/patient-facing digital health conversation shifted from a predominantly direct-to-consumer market to one that might leverage traditional healthcare channels. Among the drivers that steered the industry back toward the patient-provider relationship: the prospect of physicians prescribing apps, the importance of integrating data from mobile health programs with EHRs and other systems, and the push for patient engagement from forthcoming meaningful use requirements.


Health apps and smartphone-enabled medical devices today, which Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures) described as “clumsy point solutions”, are just version 1.0 of digital health, he said. This is just the beginning and some of the consumer-driven services today will quickly make their way into the healthcare system.


Consumer health and provider-driven digital health initiatives, of course, will grow up together in parallel. Each can help drive the other in their own way.


“There are really two models for how the world works: the cathedral and the bazaar model,” Khosla explained. “Bazaars evolve much faster than cathedrals do — often because people leave cathedrals to join the bazaar. You can also be in a cathedral and help the bazaar evolve faster than any cathedral could on its own.”

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