Mobile Technology is poised to revolutionise health industry. In our new series, we will focus on trends, challenges, opportunities and best practices from the field that we believe will define and drive the future of mobile health sector.
What will drive Mobile Health in 2012?
By Sirish K
In 2011, mobile health sector mainly focused on rolling out new applications and encouraging physicians and patients to use them. In 2012, we will see a shift of focus from apps to integration, privacy, security and interoperability. Below are a few key trends that will define and drive mobile health care technology in 2012.
Shift from consumer apps to enterprise apps: Though there are hundreds of health apps available on app stores, health app downloads lag far behind other categories. According to a latest Nielsen Report, mobile health app download is at 17th spot. What is more, over 85% of healthcare professionals don’t use the apps they have downloaded. So where does the opportunity really lie? We see the huge potential in enterprise solutions focusing on platform connectivity and data integration. Right now, there are a lot of mobile devices, wearable health apps, censors, monitoring devices and other apps that can be used by physicians, patients and clinical staff. But they are fragmented and not connected to each other. A key focus area would be on enterprise solutions that will integrate and connect multitude of devices and applications to decision support tools and electronic medical records. Cloud computing based applications for data integration and analytics will have huge demand. Especially the launch of ACOS, health care organisation will need an enterprise analytic framework that includes clinical analytics. 2012 will see a huge demand for solution providers to meet analytic requirements. The key requirement that will arise is an integrated solution that will make data available for all stakeholders, anywhere and anytime.
There will be strong emphasis on standards and protocols: There is no doubt that wireless devices will add great flexibility to the healthcare market, but for the industry to adopt it fully, there are several issues that need to be addressed such as integration and interoperability. Standardisation will be a key area that will gain a lot of attention and pace in 2012. We are already seeing a number of initiatives from regulatory and industry-led groups. Initiatives like ICD-10 codes will have a big impact on the efficiency of mobile health care applications. Software upgrades and clinical and billing staff training will a few priorities for the organisations this year. These initiatives will make the mobile health eco system more matured and collaborative.
Demand for Remote monitoring will increase: According to a report from Berg Insight, 2.2 million patients worldwide were using remote medical monitoring services at the end of 2011 and this will reach a total of 4.9 million patient connections globally by the end of 2016. The future growth in the remote monitoring market will continue to be driven by traditional telemedicine systems but will also be boosted by consumer-focused products. Embedded wireless technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee and mobile body area network (MBAN) connectivity will enhance the quality and speed of healthcare delivery. Doctors can remotely monitor patients’ vital signs like heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose levels. According to a finding by Frost and Sulivan, the number of home health monitoring devices in use with embedded cellular connectivity increased from 420,000 in 2010 to about 570,000 in 2011, and is expected to hit 2.47 million in 2016.
Mobile fitness application will emerge as a separate market: According to ABI Research mobile fitness market will exceed $400 in revenue by 2016. The growth will be steered by wearable monitoring devices that will transmit data to handsets using ultralow power.
Security and scalability will be major concerns:
Side by side with opportunities, security concerns will also dominate mHealth scene. With the increasing number of mobile users, there are significant concerns around securing the mobile devices. Critical patient information security concerns will also be heightened by increase in social media drive. Another area that will increase risk will be growing dependence on third party business associates. BAs are considered the “weak link in the chain,” when it comes to data privacy and security. In a benchmark study conducted by Ponemon Institute, 69 percent of organizations that participated have little or no confidence in their business associates’ have little or no confidence in their business associates’ ability to secure patient data. Third- party mistakes account for 46 percent of data breaches reported in the study.
Another top challenge will be scalability. Integration with legacy systems, connecting multiple levels of professionals and providers working in health sector will provide unique challenges. These factors will highlight the critical need for implementing uniform standards.