Mobile health or mHealth is the use of mobile and wireless devices in order to enhance healthcare services. Although there have been considerable developments in the field of healthcare over the past few years, the availability and affordability of healthcare services remains a challenge. This can be attributed to increasing healthcare expenditures, thus rendering these facilities unattainable for a large percentage of the population. On the other hand, mobile penetration has increased manifold. Additionally, growing urbanization and purchasing power has resulted in proliferation of smartphones and related devices, along with 3G and 4G networks, which is expected to be a significant driving force for the industry on a global scale. 3G and 4G LTE networks enable services such as high-speed data transfer and video calling, which helps in rapid delivery of telemedicine services. Consumer preferences have witnessed a marked transition, with growing demand and consumption of data services. Rising incidences of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart ailments and diabetes is also a key contributor to growing demand. Changing lifestyle and increasing aging population has resulted in growing prevalence of diseases, and mobile applications help patients control and manage them efficiently. However, security concerns and the need to maintain a secure infrastructure to ensure data safety and privacy may negatively impact the market over the next six years. Mobile health technology could include one-way or two-way applications. One-way applications involve flow of information from the medical practitioner to the patient using SMS so as to reinforce medical compliance. Two-way data application is based on client record access and remote monitoring among other remote access programs. The global mHealth market was estimated to be valued at USD 1,950 million in 2012, with an estimated CAGR of 47.6% from 2014 to 2020.
Key mHealth services analyzed and reported in the study include monitoring services, diagnosis services, healthcare systems strengthening and others. Other services primarily comprise wellness and prevention, and are focused on elderly care, drug abuse prevention, healthy living, smoking de-addiction and child care, etc. Compliance with treatment procedures is of vital importance in order to manage chronic ailments and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Monitoring services was the largest segment, and accounted for about 63% of the overall market share in 2012. They include independent aging solutions, chronic disease management and post acute care services, and devices such as body trackers are employed to monitor vital signs. Revenue mainly originates from developed markets with higher incidences of individuals afflicted with these diseases, with mobile operators and device vendors being the largest participants. Diagnosis services are primarily aimed at developing markets and lower income groups, wherein physicians can communicate with patients through help lines and telemedicine services. Healthcare systems strengthening solutions include emergency response, healthcare surveillance and administration, as well as healthcare practitioner support.
Global mHealth Market, by Service, 2012
Participants in the mHealth space include mobile operators, device vendors, content players and healthcare providers. Mobile operators are expected to remain the largest and fastest growing segment over the forecast period. They offer a range of solutions in addition to connectivity services. These include content-based wellness information, end-to-end solutions, mobile telemedicine, as well as health call-centers. Other services also include real-time connectivity for devices and solutions to monitor the patients’ vital signs. Majority of their market revenue originates from monitoring and diagnosis services. Device vendors include technology and electronics companies that provide equipment to gather and communicate medical data pertaining to the patient to back-end servers via mobile networks. Content players provide information-based services, which can be through collaborations with mobile operators or in a stand-alone fashion. Key factors for expediting mobile health adoption on a global level are concentrated efforts from mobile operators and device vendors, as well as regulatory backing. Favorable policy formations, granting of funds, as well as incentives to private participants are among a few possible initiatives to drive mHealth service deployments. Resolving issues such as interoperability, standardization, as well as certification of devices is critical for industry growth. In order to achieve widespread user adoption, usability issues need to be dealt with, and parameters including availability, acceptability and affordability of content need to be ensured.
The European market is expected to be the largest regional segment by the end of the forecast period. Remote monitoring solutions and patient treatment accounted for majority of the overall mobile health deployment in the European region. On account of growing smartphone adoption, the region has also witnessed growth in health and wellness based mobile apps. The UK dominated regional mobile health deployments, with services delivered through channels ranging from SMS to complex apps. There have also been a number of live and pilot mHealth projects in Europe along with deployments by operators such as T-Mobile, Telefonica and Orange. Developed markets of North America and Europe face challenges including rising healthcare expenditure, pressure on healthcare service delivery and aging population. Monitoring services have dominated the Asia Pacific market, which is expected to grow at the highest CAGR of 49.1% from 2014 to 2020. High rural population and low penetration of medical practitioners in a few countries in Asia Pacific are expected to be a considerable opportunity for revenue generation. Opportunities differ across the region; with higher spend per active user in urbanized countries of Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Australia. Lack of effective healthcare delivery infrastructure and dearth of trained professionals are among a few challenges faced by emerging markets. This can prove to be a credible opportunity for service providers to boost mobile health deployments.
The global market comprises a large number of stakeholders that differ on the basis of their role in the ecosystem. These include AT&T, Vodafone, Apple, Inc., Samsung Electronics Corporation, Qualcomm Inc., Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, and mQure among others. Companies operating in the industry have been adopting product innovation and development as the key growth strategy. Strategic partnerships and research and development activities are also employed by major players. In order to drive user adoption, partnerships with major healthcare providers and ensuring user-friendly services are of critical importance. Ensuring compliance with treatment and provision of services in a consolidated and cost effective manner is crucial for ensuring adoption on a global level.