One of the most personally rewarding sides of my role at iMedicalApps is consistent and early exposure to the many ways technology is influencing and in some cases changing the way we physicians think about healthcare.

In particular, the proliferation of medical apps has opened doors we just a few years ago wouldn’t have thought possible. Some represent huge opportunities, others are as yet more vague. I’d argue that much of that gray is due to the fact that doctors and medical societies are only just beginning to engage with the task of evaluating what’s feasible and what isn’t in this relatively new landscape.

Given our exposure to what’s needed in the field, I think the conversations we doctors initiate and participate in play a critical role in this process. To that end, I’m devoting this post to a cribsheet of the health tech trends that have proven robust in the past year.

1. Patient education programs

You interact with patients for a brief amount of time, but their questions keep going. We’re starting to see a few good apps, as exemplified by the Orca MD series, that are trying to offer the kind of credible answers that might be tough for patients to find on google or through their social networks.

2. Phones as medical devices

The image is especially appealing–physicians and patients walking around with these incredibly powerful computers right in their pockets. Radio-frequency identification and bluetooth will be a huge component of how this technology develops, enabling doctors to do things such as use a phone as a pressure sensor to find out if a cast is too tight. Another application: Instead of having an ICU where patients are monitored, scannable monitors could be used on their bodies.

3. Networking services for information sharing

HIPAA-compliant networks such as Doximity are benefiting from the two obvious features already on smartphones–cameras and location services. Both are making it easier to discuss cases and make referrals.

4. Apps as prescriptions for behavioral change

On iMedicalApps we’re getting ready to publish some interesting early research on centers that are harnessing existing technology to develop behavior change programs. These apps can track behavior patterns through location services, text prompts asking users to evaluate state-of-mind, and even offer facetime counseling. This is place for great opportunity as mobile phones, as truly personal devices, could help modify behavior at the time and place where it counts the most.

5. Data flow for health records

Health data is shifting toward becoming less and less human-centered. Imagine a patient having his or her weight taken, with that measurement flowing into the medical record passively and immediately from the scale. The implications for data aggregation are profound.