Report examines the future role of apps in healthcare

A new report has been released highlighting how the major trends in applications will impact society in the future.

The report – The Future of Apps – was commissioned by app security and cloud solutions company F5 Networks and looks at a range of technological and sociological trends across automation, biometrics, IT and technology sectors. Research was conduct by market trend analysis company Foresight Factory.

The rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the main factors that will impact app development in the future, the report states. Digital health company Babylon Health are used as an example as the company is trialling an AI-powered app in conjunction with the NHS. Users input their symptoms into the app to receive a recommended response. The app uses algorithms, clinicians and data analytics to consult a large database of illnesses and symptoms.

Apps have the potential to provide significant cost savings and improve patient outcomes when provided alongside healthcare services. Patients suffering from long-term conditions such as diabetes could benefit from apps that help monitor medication and glucose levels.

Medical device company Medtronic is working alongside IBM’s Watson AI platform on diabetic management. The companies claim they have developed a ‘cognitive app’ which acts as a personal assistant and can predict diabetic events before they happen. By changing the way healthcare is managed, potential savings can be accrued alongside an improvement in patient outcomes.

Speaking about cognitive apps,Mostafa Zafer, director IBM Analytics and Collaboration Solutions said: “I think it will reach a point where the app should advise whether I should do the service, or should do the transaction or not. I think that is going to be the main role of AI in the app – really to become an advisor to me whilst I am using the app itself.”

Issues do arise however in the use of data if such apps are to become commonplace, the report says. As such tools will depend upon a host of personal data, users will face intrusions into their data privacy. With the recent scandal regarding the NHS and Google Deepmind’s use of data, a higher level of transparency is needed if the public are to trust organisations with their personal information.

Josh McBain, director of Consultancy, Foresight Factory said: “These technological shifts will bring significant risks to an increasingly fraught threat landscape, including the dangers of self-replicating AI, autonomous vehicle hacks or the weaponisation of the Internet of Things. We now need to be prepared for when cybercriminals hack the human or even breach the brain.”

The report also discusses research surrounding embeddables and human implants. The field of study sounds like something out of a sci-fi film and highlights the amazing scientific developments across the world. For example, human intelligence company Kernal, is developing an implantable chip which sits in the hippocampus region of the brain to help create memory. The chip electrically stimulates certain neurons and attempts to replicate the way brain cells communicate with each other. It could potentially be used  to help create long-term memories for people with dementia or a brain injury.

Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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