What is mHealth?

mHealth – also known as mobile health - refers to the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets, personal digital assistants and the wireless infrastructure.

Within digital health, mHealth encompasses all applications of telecommunications and multimedia technologies for the delivery of healthcare and health information.

How is mHealth used?

The most common digital health applications for mHealth include:

  • Education and awareness
  • Diagnostic and treatment support
  • Disease and epidemic outbreak tracking
  • Healthcare supply chain management
  • Remote data collection
  • Remote monitoring
  • Healthcare worker telecommunication and training
  • Telehealth / telemedicine
  • Chronic disease management

Numerous mHealth initiatives across the world have demonstrated the efficacy of using mobile devices to deliver such health solutions in a cost-effective manner:

  • mHealth nuviunPatients make and receive phone calls or text/voice messages related to health education, treatment adherence, contacting health workers or organizing transport to health services.
  • Healthcare workers are provided with needed resources to access the most up-to-date clinical guidelines, collaborate with colleagues, analyse data, receive diagnostic support, and interact with clients.
  • Positive outcomes are achieved through SMS alerts—which have a proven ability to influence behaviour in a manner superior to radio and television campaigns.
  • Remote data collection is achieved—which reduces the health information gap that exists in many developing countries and enables officials to evaluate the effectiveness of public health initiatives, allocate resources appropriately, and optimize policies and programs.
  • Medication adherence and chronic care management is supported—as evidenced by Smart Alert Systems that notify physicians via a cloud-based platform if a patient is not taking medications as prescribed, and requires intervention.
  • Access to quality care is optimized—helping to address the shortage of skilled healthcare workers, and lessening the burden on those trying to bridge the gap.

Emerging trends in mHealth applications include:

  • Emergency response systems
  • Home-based remote patient monitoring
  • Human resources coordination, management, and supervision
  • Mobile synchronous (voice) and asynchronous (SMS) diagnostic and decision support for remote clinicians
  • Point-of-care clinician support which includes an evidence-based formulary, as well as database and decision support information
  • Pharmaceutical supply chain integrity
  • Patient safety systems
  • Remote monitoring and clinical care
  • Health extension services
  • Health services monitoring and reporting
  • Health-related mLearning for the general public
  • Training and continuing professional development for healthcare workers
  • Health promotion and community mobilization
  • Support for chronic care management such as diabetes, asthma and cancer
  • Peer-to-peer personal health management for telemedicine

Current Market and Industry Trends for mHealth

Mobile platforms are the world’s most pervasive technology trend with more than five billion people using them.

The increased penetration of smartphones and expanding wireless network coverage provides digital health systems with new possibilities to address challenges associated with accessibility, quality, effectiveness, efficiency and cost of healthcare.

This is leading to an increasing acceptance of mHealth in the digital health community.

Booz & Company report regarding mhealth:

  • Physicians are 250% more likely to own a tablet than other consumers
  • 40% of physicians say tablet usage helps decrease time spent on administrative tasks
  • 88% of these doctors said they wanted their patients to montior vital statistics at home
  • Approximately half of patients said they’d be comfortable participating in video consultations with their physicians.

Supporting these findings, an additional report states that consumers are expecting mHealth to significantly change their own healthcare experiences regarding how they'll obtain information about health issues.

This will impact how consumers manage overall health and communicate with their physicians. About half of those surveyed felt that mhealth could improve quality, convenience, and reduce healthcare costs.

Globally, the number of smartphone users is expanding exponentially, and a Berg Insight survey predicts that the number of people using a health monitoring device with integrated cellular connectivity will reach 7.10 million by the end of 2017.

Since the GCC has the highest smartphone penetration rates among high-use countries, as well as the highest daily app use, mHealth will soar in this region.

The combined market of mobile health apps, mobile solutions via connected devices (such as cardiac monitoring, diabetes management devices), health and wellness apps (focusing on exercise, weight loss, women’s health, sleep and meditation) and medical reference apps is expected to grow to $20.7 billion by 2018.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates that the mHealth market will expand to $23 billion by 2017 with service categories by revenue broken down as:

  • Monitoring services and applications (which include remote patient monitoring, chronic disease management, post acute care management services, independent ageing services) will comprise 65% of market with $15 billion.
  • Diagnostic services will comprise 15% of the market with $3.4 billion.
  • Treatment will comprise 10% of the market with $2.3 billion.
  • Healthcare practitioner support will comprise 5% of the market with $1.1 billion.
  • Wellness will comprise 3% of the market ($0.7 billion) and prevention will comprise 1% of the market ($0.2 billion) followed by others such as administration, healthcare surveillance support and emergency response.

mHealth promises to revolutionize consumer engagement, provider excellence, and the effectiveness of healthcare delivery across the globe.

External Resources

  1. mHealthEvidence – Reference site for scientific proof on mHealth
  2. mHealthWatch – News, commentary and research on mobile health
  3. jhumhealth – John Hopkins University’s global mHealth initiative
  4. The mHealth Working Group – A collaborative working group by various global health organizations

Internal Resources

Relevant Blogs

  1. 8 Examples of How m-Health is Increasing Access to Healthcare Around the World
  2. How mHealth is Changing the Healthcare Ecosystem
  3. Mobile Health STAT! Why Your m-Health Company Needs to Enter the GCC Market Now
  4. e-Health and Telemedicine: 5 Examples of Growth in the GCC Today
  5. 4 Ways Digital Health Can Improve Quality, Increase Access and Decrease Costs in GCC Healthcare

Relevant News Articles

  1. Smartphones to Turn Into Cancer-Detecting Tools
  2. First-of-its-kind Diabetes Telehealth Project in Mississippi May Have Lessons for the UAE
  3. du's Wellness App Creates Waves at the Arab Health Congress 2014
  4. Use of Mobile Technology by Physicians in Healthcare Organizations is Increasing, HIMSS Survey Says

Want to learn more about the digital health industry? Use the nuviun digital health landscape diagram to explore the sub-specialties in detail.