Mark my words – the day is not far off when physicians will be prescribing patients Smartphone apps and wearable sensor devices just as routinely as they prescribe pharmaceuticals, physical therapy and other treatment options today.

Ambulatory patient monitoring is one example of a clinical diagnostic technology that is on the verge of achieving full mobilization via consumer Smartphone devices and wearable sensors. Traditionally this technology could only be used with a high degree of reliability in a clinical setting. However, Wireless Body Area Network (WBAN) technologies are enabling clinicians to remotely monitor patients in real-time and even provide biofeedback to patients based on each individual’s personal physiological data, all via Smartphones.

I have been working for nearly two years with Chicago-based Wave Technology Group to develop a business model for their ambulatory EEG Smartphone app, which will enable real-time M2M monitoring of high-risk epileptic seizure patients by clinical neurologists. While initially developing the business plan for Wave it was difficult to think about app distribution models beyond the App Store, which would mean embracing a direct to consumer approach to engaging users.

However, after researching the history of ambulatory EEG monitoring it became clear these services are typically only performed on a prescription basis because of the complex and expensive nature of the procedure and the various wearable technologies it requires. Rather than fight an unwinnable uphill battle, we decided to embrace the established clinician-patient dynamic of treatment by prescription and adapted our model to use this dynamic to our advantage.

The difficulty posed by Smartphone apps replacing clinical monitoring technology will be encountered in customer support, as patients will be asked to assume unprecedented responsibility for managing their own condition.

What will be the implication of the rise of prescription strength apps on the App Stores model?