Mobile health or mHealth makes use of mobile and wireless devices to enhance healthcare services. The availability and affordability of healthcare services continues to pose a challenge in spite of developments in the field over the past few years. On the other hand, smartphone penetration with 3G and 4G networks has multiplied owing to growing urbanization and purchasing power, which is expected to drive mHealth market growth. 3G and 4G LTE networks facilitate rapid delivery of telemedicine services through video calling and high speed data transfer. Rising incidences of chronic diseases such as heart ailments, cancer, and diabetes is a key contributor to growing mHealth demand as mobile applications help patients in the efficient control and management of these ailments.
Need for maintaining secure infrastructure to ensure data safety and privacy may negatively impact the mHealth market growth over the next six years. mHealth technology includes both, one-way and two-way applications. In one-way applications, the information flows from medical practitioners to patients through SMS for reinforcing medical compliance. Two-way data application involves client record access and remote monitoring.
Healthcare systems strengthening, diagnosis services, and monitoring services are the primary types of mHealth services. Other services, which primarily consist of prevention and wellness, are focused on child care, drug abuse prevention, elderly care, healthy living, and smoking de-addiction.
Monitoring services accounted for over 60% of the overall market share in 2013, and include post acute care services, chronic disease management, independent aging solutions, and devices like body trackers for monitoring vital signs. The revenue primarily originates from developed markets where there is higher prevalence of chronic diseases.
Diagnosis services are mainly intended for lower income groups in developing markets, wherein physicians can communicate with patients through telemedicine services and help lines. Healthcare systems strengthening solutions include healthcare practitioner support, healthcare surveillance and administration, and emergency response services.
Device vendors, mobile operators, healthcare providers, and content players constitute the participants in the mHealth space. Mobile operators are expected to remain the largest and fastest growing segment over the forecast period. In addition to connectivity services, they offer services such as mobile telemedicine, health call-centers, end-to-end solutions, and content-based wellness information. Majority of their mHealth market revenue originates from diagnosis and monitoring services. Device vendors include electronics and technology companies that provide equipment for gathering medical data pertaining to the patient, and transmitting the data to back-end servers via mobile networks. Content players provide information-based services, either in a stand-alone fashion or through collaborations with mobile operators.
Concentrated efforts from device vendors and mobile operators coupled with regulatory backing are key factors for expediting mHealth adoption on a global scale. Resolving issues pertaining to standardization, interoperability and certification of devices are crucial for industry growth.
North America led the global mHealth market in 2013, accounting for more than 30% of the overall revenue on account of high demand for monitoring services in the wake of growing incidences of chronic diseases. A surge in mHealth market demand is expected in Asia Pacific over the forecast period, driven by the need for accessible healthcare; the regional market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 45% from 2014 to 2020.
Research Support Specialist, USA