How mHealth Will Transform the Health of Billions

By the Editors

Transparency Market Research recently released a report that says the mobile healthcare market (mHealth), which currently sits at annual revenues of $1.3 billion, is poised for rapid growth over the next six years at a compound annual growth rate of 41.5%. This would put the industry at $10.2 billion in revenues by 2018. What is driving this growth and what can healthcare companies do to leverage mobile market research to their advantage?

The United States population continues to age, which results in a higher overall incidence of chronic diseases that need to be monitored in an ongoing way. At the same time, the widespread adoption of smartphones and other mobile devices has become ubiquitous among all segments of the population.

In the US, the number of mobile phones is already greater than the population by 17 million. Another driver for the rise of mHealth is the continued shortage of healthcare workers nationwide. If compensation from medical insurance companies to healthcare providers drops significantly, this shortage will only worsen.

Mobile technologies offer a way for physicians and their patients to interact more efficiently, creating the potential for a two-way flow of information that could lessen the number of in-office visits needed, saving precious healthcare dollars for doctors offices and patients who are struggling with paying for their medical expenses in tough economic times.

What Healthcare Companies Can Do

How can a healthcare company make the most of the rapidly growing mHealth market? One key to the puzzle is thinking through how mobile connections can help streamline existing operations rather than inventing whole new systems. The first thing on the agenda should be mining healthcare patient databases to identify the prevalence of conditions that lend themselves to monitoring through mobile technologies.

Take, for example, diabetes and the work of WellDoc Inc., a healthcare technology company. The company outfitted 163 patients with blood glucose monitoring equipment and a mobile app that allowed them to enter self-monitored glucose data into their mobile devices and then receive real-time coaching through cloud-based medical software to help manage their levels of glycated hemoglobin.

An overall statistically significant decline of 1.9% was achieved, as opposed to the .7% in the control group. In dollar figures, more than $218 billion is spent each year treating diabetes, and this mHealth approach could save up to $10,000 per patient in medical costs. Other top choices of conditions that could be monitored and improved through mHealth include obesity and hypertension.

The promise of mHealth is nothing short of revolutionary. To take full advantage of it, however, healthcare companies will need to be willing to think differently, act differently and accept new, closer, real-time relationship management with their clients and patients. It’s a win-win situation in the making that has the potential to increase the overall health of billions of people around the world.