Let us imagine a couple of scenarios:
Before entering a patient’s room, a doctor pauses, pulls out his smartphone, and studies the patient’s chart.
A person with diabetes uses a mobile application for tracking their blood sugar levels.
While both of these scenarios might have been deemed inconceivable just a few years ago, they have become critical aspects of medical treatment and patient care procedures worldwide. These situations essentially describe mobile health’s real-world applications, or mHealth technology, as it is popularly known as around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined mHealth as “Medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices.”
The increasing penetration of the internet, growing geriatric population, increasing the requirement of remote patient monitoring systems and services, the surging popularity of patient-centric healthcare services, and rising prevalence of various chronic diseases are some of the major factors responsible for the surging adoption of mHealth across the world. Integrated mobile apps and connected medical instruments — the critical components of mHealth — help provide personalized patient care and home-based disease diagnosis. Moreover, mobile applications allow medical practitioners to provide prescriptions to patients in emergencies.
Due to the increasing adoption of mHealth solutions in numerous healthcare applications, the global mHealth market will grow in valuation, from $23.0 billion to $132.2 billion from 2017 to 2023. Furthermore, the market is predicted to advance at a CAGR of 33.5% from 2018 to 2023.
What Are Major Advantages of mHealth?
One of the most significant benefits of mHealth is the convenience it provides in disease diagnosis and treatment. The mHealth applications and wearable and connected devices allow for the continuous tracking and monitoring of various health parameters and data, without requiring the users to visit their doctors. As per few estimates, in 2017, 325,000 mHealth mobile apps were available for download from different app stores.
The other significant advantage provided by mHealth over conventional treatment methods is that it helps bridge the gaps in patient care, by allowing for proper communication between the patients and healthcare providers, without requiring them to meet face to face. This smooth and fast communication between healthcare providers and patients further boosts the quality of patient care.
Some mobile health applications can integrate with the patient’s EHR (electronic health record), allowing users access to their health data through their mobile phones.
Due to the increasing healthcare costs in several countries, people increasingly prefer mHealth apps for the management and treatment of various chronic diseases. These apps help in diagnosis and prescribing treatment plans and medications for many diseases.
mHealth Applications playing an essential role in Management of These Diseases:
- Hypertension: Besides monitoring the blood pressure of a person continuously, a mHealth application can also provide several useful suggestions, such as exercise regimens, alternative medicines, and diet plans, for keeping the blood pressure under control.
- Diabetes: Internet of things (IoT)-integrated medical devices allow users to measure their blood sugar levels and various other metrics, with the help of their connected mobile applications. Based on this data, the apps can either help the patients get in touch with specialists or prescribe treatment plans. These applications also prescribe proper diet and exercise plans and medication, which play a significant role in managing diabetes.
- Asthma: Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that people suffer worldwide. The mHealth applications evaluate this condition using the smartphone’s microphone as a spirometer and then recommend adequate treatment measures to the patient.
Demand for Connected Medical Devices Set to Surge in Future
Connected devices, mHealth applications, and services are the mainstream media by which the mHealth solutions are provided. Out of these, the usage of connected devices was observed to be the highest in the past. This trend is also predicted to continue in the future, on account of the numerous advantages of the connected devices, such as their ability to provide real-time disease management support, allow for remote patient monitoring, lower the cost of medical treatments, and enhance the patient outcomes.
There are mainly six types of connected devices used globally, namely sleep apnea monitors, blood glucose monitors, multiparameter monitors, electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors, blood pressure monitors, and pulse oximeters. Amongst these, the usage of blood pressure monitors is predicted to increase at the fastest rate in the forthcoming years. This is primarily ascribed to the changing lifestyles and dietary habits of people, and the consequently rising incidence of diabetes.
Increasing Internet Penetration Boosting Global Demand for mHealth
Since the last few years, there has been a sharp rise in internet penetration in several countries, especially developing nations. According to the World Bank, compared to less than 1% in 1993, almost 50% of the global population were regular internet users in 2017. Moreover, this number will only rise in the coming years, on account of the rapid digitization and soaring disposable income of people. The availability of 3G and 4G networks has further boosted the utilization of smartphones, which has, in turn, caused a tremendous surge in the adoption of mobile health applications and connected medical instruments all over the world.
According to the facts released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of December 2016, China had 731 million internet users representing 53.2% of the country’s population, with 95% of internet users being mobile internet users.
mHealth Penetration To Be Highest in North America in Coming Years
Globally, North America is predicted to observe the highest adoption of mHealth solutions and services in the upcoming years. The main factors fueling the popularity of mHealth solutions in this region are the rising healthcare expenditure, increasing geriatric population, growing consumer access to various connected healthcare devices, and rising incidence of numerous lifestyle-associated and chronic diseases in the region.
As per the 2017 World Population Aging report published by the UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), the population of geriatric people (people aged 60 years and above) was almost 78.4 million in North America that year, and this number will further rise to 122.8 billion by 2050. This massive growth in older adults’ population will boost the requirement for remote patient monitoring systems and mobile applications in the region in the years ahead.
Hence, it can be said with conviction that the demand for mHealth solutions will surge all over the world in the years to come, primarily because of the growing geriatric population, rising incidence of chronic diseases, and increasing healthcare costs around the globe, not discrediting the fact that mHealth is making healthcare more accessible and cost-effective.
Source: P&S Intelligence
Sachin has around seven years of experience in market research and consulting services for the healthcare industry. He holds varied market sizing and forecasting expertise with various models, competition landscape, consumer behavior analysis, opportunity analysis, product/company benchmarking, data mining, and others.
He has successfully delivered multiple projects on go-to-market strategies, pricing strategy, price point analysis, Business Expansion, market-entry, and exit, share analysis, and others. Before joining P&S Intelligence, he worked with different research companies, including Transparency Market Research and MarketsandMarkets Pvt Ltd.
Some of the projects delivered by him include Scar Treatment Market, Skin Replacement and Substitutes Market, and Energy-Based Aesthetic Devices Market.