Smartphones and tablets have fundamentally changed how we communicate, get information and conduct commerce. That popularity of apps has carried over into the health care industry as consumers search for easy-to-use mobile apps for health information and caregiver connectivity, and providers scramble to deliver consumer-friendly mobile services to sign on new patients and solidify relationships with existing ones. Case in point: Juniper Research predicts that consumers worldwide will download 44 million health apps in 2012, with continued growth resulting in 142 million downloads in 2016.

However, the vast majority of those downloads will be for health software that tracks a diet, logs cardio workouts or is geared toward reducing stress. Those are all valuable tools, but many health care organizations are aiming their efforts at offering mobile applications that connect consumers (i.e., patients) with the nuts and bolts of health care delivery: appointment scheduling, test results, interaction with chronic disease professionals and online bill pay options.

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