Pressure for mHealth is building behind a barrier of questions and inaction

According to a report issued recently by the GSM Association, one thing is clear:  Nearly everyone who is familiar with mobile health agrees it’s a good thing. A survey of 2,000 healthcare providers (HCPs), patients and consumers showed an overwhelming majority believing mHealth solutions “can convey significant health benefits.”

In addition, most respondents agree that mHealth is effective in addressing what is certainly among the largest problems with healthcare delivery:  Affordability. For example, a patient with a chronic disease currently depends on a model that requires direct contact (read:  office visits) with several health care providers, for the purpose of monitoring treatment. mHealth offers the ability for patients to not only monitor themselves and share their progress with their HCPs over the Internet, but, in many cases, supplement the monitoring with apps that help achieve behavioral changes (such as weight loss or exercise) that improve their prognosis.

It looks like a win-win situation, but mHealth still faces many challenges, most of which have to do with cost accountability. In other words, how is mHealth regulated and who pays for it? HCPs are often reluctant to change their treatment models, and have concerns about remuneration from insurance companies (a concern nearly universally shared by patients). Planners and insurers appear to be leading the effort to get mHealth into the mainstream.

Government, healthcare providers, insurers and patients – all have a stake in what could very well turn out to be among the biggest advances in making quality healthcare more cost-effective and accessible.

The GSMA report is refreshingly well organized and clearly presented, and offers a wealth of valuable information and insight. I encourage you to download a copy for yourself here.


Posted in: Digital Health, Health 2.0, Healthcare Marketing, Marketing Medical Devices, Medical Device Marketing, mHealth

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The best $100k anyone has spent on mobile health?

In the old story of the Tower of Babel, the people constructing a tower to the sky were stymied by a curse that made each of them speak a different language. Their inability to communicate effectively derailed the project. (And, according to some legends, explains why there are different languages in the world.)

Today, the field of mobile health applications is experiencing a similar curse. While there are zillions of applications, there is a pronounced lack of integration between them. Experts concede that while there are many innovative and useful technologies that have been and are being developed, their inability to “talk” to one another stands in the way of realizing the tremendous synergy that can come from compatibility and easy interactivity.

In an effort to encourage mobile health developers to “speak the same language,” the Heritage Provider Network, partnering with UCLA, is sponsoring a $100,000 challenge. What distinguishes this challenge is that submissions must use the open software developed by the non-profit company Open mHealth.

Rather than hindering innovation, broad agreement on

program integration was spectacularly successful

By encouraging use of open architecture software, Heritage Provider Network is hoping new applications will make it much easier for patients (especially those with multiple conditions) to record data and share it with their caregivers.

I certainly applaud this effort. I’m old enough to remember how much time I wasted with my first computer systems, hassling with “Mac vs PC” incompatibilities or Excel/Lotus and MSWord/WordPerfect conflicts. The benefits of compatibility eventually (for the most part) overcame developers’ concerns about exclusivity. Rather than hindering innovation, broad agreement on program integration was spectacularly successful in advancing the pace and efficiency of technology and was good for the market in general.

The winners of the challenge will be announced at the Health Datapalooza, being held in June in Washington D.C. It could be the best $100,000 anyone has spent on advancing mobile health initiatives.



Posted in: Digital Health, Healthcare Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Medical Devices, Medical Device Marketing, Medical Devices, mHealth, Patients as Healthcare Consumers, Smartphones

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