For more and more people, computers and software are becoming a critical part of their health care.
Thanks to an array of small devices and applications for smartphones that gather vital health information and store it electronically, consumers can take a more active role in managing their own care, often treating chronic illnesses—and preventing acute ones—without the direct aid of a physician.
A report in November by research2guidance estimated there were more than 17,000 mobile health applications designed for smartphones, and that many were aimed at and being adopted by health care professionals. It forecast that mobile and wireless health care services would expand significantly to reach 500 million mobile users, or about 30 percent of an estimated 1.4 billion smartphone subscribers worldwide, by 2015.
The story in the New York Times also cites the Markle Foundation survey conducted by KnowledgeNetworks last year showing that 10 percent of the public now uses PHRs, compared with 3 percent in 2008. A similar proportion of doctors said they offered PHR tools to their patients.