Mobile, big data and machine to machine (M2M) solutions are the forerunners in technology trends disrupting the healthcare industry. Patients and doctors are becoming more accessible, information is helping with research, diagnostics, providing care and preventing disease, and connected devices are tying it all together. Even on the consumer level, the explosion in wearable technology and health and fitness monitors are helping to improve healthcare by promoting healthier lifestyles.
mHealth represents the trend of mobile health, or using mobile devices to support and improve the practice of medicine and public health. It makes healthcare data more accessible than ever, including wellness, fitness performance, hospital information, insurance companies and patient monitoring. Examples of mHealth include:
- CATRA: A mobile phone attachment that detects cataracts to prevent blindness
- Cell phone-based fluorescent imaging and sensing platform that can detect E. coli in food and water (UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science)
- Medicall: Phone (News - Alert) consultations with physicians to remote populations (Mexico)
- Directly Observed Therapy (DOT): DOT on cell phones works with video to let patients record and send mobile videos taking TB medications to DOT workers
- SIMpill: A smart pill box that sends an electronic notification to cell towers when a patient opens the bottle to take a pill. On the flip side, it sends an alert via phone if a patient forgets to open a bottle
- Vitaphone: 24-hour healthcare advice, telemedical monitoring, e-chart production and remote ECG analysis
- M4RH: Using mobile phones and text messaging to educate women about family planning
- Project Optimize: A digital database of immunization records that can be updated using mobile devices (collaborative initiative among the World Health Organization, the Program of Appropriate Technology in Health and the Albania Institute of Public Health)
- Peek (Portable Eye Examination Kit): Smartphone eye scan
- iBGStar: Diabetes manager app, blood glucose meter for iPhone or iPod touch
- Fraunhofer (News - Alert) MEVIS: Augmented reality surgery. The app uses a 3D vessel map on top of live video of a patient to make safe incisions
Integrating mobile devices to support professionals, practices and processes is absolutely the future of healthcare. The global mHealth market is predicted to reach $21.5 billion in four years (2018), according to a report from BCC Research. Allied Research, on the other hand, predicts the market will grow from $8.3 billion in 2013 to $58.8 billion by 2020 – a CAGR of 32.3 percent from 2013 to 2020.
"MHealth solutions can help to rapidly improve healthcare access in developing countries and maintain quality healthcare services in the face of increased patient burden in the developed countries," said BCC (News - Alert) healthcare analyst Dr. C. L. Barton, in a statement. "In addition, mHealth technologies can provide companies with a competitive advantage in the increasingly competitive pharmaceutical environment."
Barriers to mHealth Adoption
Just as enterprises have a lot to consider with the bring your own device (BYOD) movement, there are issues with mHealth adoption as well. A report from MedData Group found that some doctors fear mHealth will enable the government to take over healthcare, while cost and regulatory and legal requirements are among the top challenges of adopting a fully integrated, connected healthcare system. Plus, as with any first round of implementing new technology, there will be barriers like employee training and adoption, first generations of software and equipment that will take learning and development over time.
Accelerating the Next Generation of mHealth
Sprint Accelerator is a program for companies in Kansas City to help build the future of mobile health. Powered by Techstars, Sprint (News - Alert) Accelerator gives these ten companies access to up to $120,000 in seed funding, support from experts in health, technology and entrepreneurship fields, access to carrier technology and APIs, and access to testing labs, research facilities and network engineers in order to fuel mobile health innovation.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi