While watching one of my favourite daily series on the lives of medics, I was wondering how terrible it is for both doctors and patients to establish a personal relationship these days. No matter how caring they try to be to us, at the end of the day we are no more than a ‘case’ to them. And the number of these ‘cases’ keep increasing with every passing day.
We as ailing sufferers and more importantly as the primary accountable person for your body now need to adopt some velocious measures to stay healthy. Over the years I have seen people grow more conscious of their fitness and start following healthy regimes; to avoid falling prey to ailments.
However, you just cannot avoid certain ailments and medical emergencies and that is the reason mHealth came into being. The biggest aim of mHealth is to ensure that you stay connected with the best and proximal medicinal provisions with the aid of technology.
What is mHealth
As I read in one of PWC’s reports and found it the most appropriate formulae:
Doctors – Hospital Visits + Mobile Technology = mHealth
Now you know that mHealth does not simply aid you in adopting the process of becoming health conscious.
mHealth or mobile health as the term suggests is an ecosystem that connects your fitness with your mobile gadgets, which also include wearables and sensors. Earlier mHealth was restricted to sharing problems, remedies, reports and prescriptions; however over the years mHealth has expanded its realm and taken a more personalized approach.
The market of mHealth is going to expand on a huge scale globally in the coming years and with it will expand the opportunities, for apps developers in mobile health industry.
I would like to stress here that mHealth is not limited to smartphones alone, rather they have embraced newer technologies which fall into the category of mobile.
What is the Difference between eHealth and mHealth
Now at this stage I would like to clarify that eHealth and mHealth are two different practices and although related to the same field; they have some distinctly different qualities.
- First, mHealth has a more personal approach, since we are more attached to our mobile gadgets.
- Although the eHealth platform has a wider reach, one finds more concentrated audience for mHealth.
- Another important factor that makes mHealth more favoured is its localized appeal, medical practitioners are now able to communicate better on forums, and so are patients.
How mHealth Influences Healthcare and App Development Sectors
According to a research, around 36% Health Apps have entered the app market in the last two years, to be counted easily as the majority.
yet only the big fishes of the mobile application market have been able to make it big in the sector.
- There are over 100,000 healthcare applications present in the app stores of both Apple and Android
- Around 30% of these mHealth apps are fitness apps
- The mHealth app market will grow to a considerable size of USD 26bn by 2017
- Lack of data security and app development standards are the commonest and biggest blockades in the health app market
- 71% of mHealth apps are either already connected to or plan to connect to an API for the exchange of health data
Although a report by Gartner published on August 11, 2014 states that mHealth isn’t yet in its flourishing stage; and it needs around 5 years to make it to the progressive platform. However, a definite rise has been seen amongst users, when it comes to using gadgets which are related to healthcare especially considering the launch of Apple Watch; and similar Smartwatches and wearables. This disparity can be implicated to the initiatives taken so far, which are more focussed towards the Healthcare industry rather than individuals or end-users.
What are the Present Challenges in mHealth
One of my worries as a user of mHealth technology has been “does it make me too self-regulating?” Well! I’m not the only one who’s worried it seems, there are more users like me along with 64% doctors who fear that mHealth makes the users too independent.
However, there’s no denial that doctors are also encouraging patients to adopt the mHealth techniques, since it relieves them of the mounting pressure and helps connect, discuss and share their case studies with other experts, when need arises.
The major challenges faced by the mHealth sector are:
- The absence of recognized business models has come up as the biggest barrier in the development of the mHealth ecosystem. The need of the hour is to create awareness amongst Smartphone users about the availability as well as usefulness of health related apps.
- Developing countries are being believed to be the biggest adopter of mHealth than developed countries; but technological reservation as well as hesitancy amongst users is obstructing the progress of this ecosystem.
It is being predicted that in the coming years, sensors and data health collection will also become a predominant activity in the mHealth market, which means its high-time to work on the loopholes.
What is the Future of mHealth
With the advent of wearables and sensors mHealth or Mobile Health has been able to cause considerable disruption in the Healthcare sector. There are continuous inventions being made in the healthcare sector in collaboration with technology to ensure a proper handshake between the two fields. The consortium had been arranged for quite a while, a glimpse of which was strongly felt when Apple launched HealthKit to give an impression of stepping into the healthcare sector.
In order to gauge the future of mHealth in the coming years, one needs to contemplate on different requirements of the users of mobile health technology.
- Concentration on fitness
- Consultation between patients and doctors
- Knowledge sharing amongst medical practitioners
Now these different types of users of the health apps are dispersed on different scales globally. As a technologist I always stress that we identify the target audience of our application and the scalability of the app because we are working for a field which is meant to see a lot of transformation in the coming years.
Considering the fact that there are healthcare apps already flooding the market; the question arises on the download rate which hadn’t seen a rise until recently. Yet according to the latest estimations, the mHealth market will see a sweeping rise. Based on a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the California HealthCare Foundation, 52% of Smartphone users in the U.S are gathering health information through their gadgets and this data is certainly going to rise in the next few years.
Wearables, Beacons and Sensors
Thinking about when this actually began, the first thing to come to my mind is the Nike+ app and related gears. One can consider it a well-executed marketing strategy but Nike was indeed able to instil within people the importance of fitness through its Running App.
Wearables will soon become an indispensable part of our lives; another report by Gartner says wearable electronic devices for fitness will reach 68.1 million units in 2015. Not to mention that this rise also marks a bright future for mobile app developers who now have a new genre to build-up their strength on.
The creator of Google Glass Dr. Babak Parviz, who is now with Amazon also agrees that this wearable has a bright future with mHealth, “In the surgery, it can be used as a tool for medical education. The doctor can transmit a first-person point of view to the student; even if you’re standing right next to the doctor in the surgery, it’s hard to see what’s going on.”
Wondering what beacons have got to do with the mHealth sector?
Beacons, indeed have a very competitive market, especially after they have moved on from being simple Bluetooth reliant devices. Those simple Estimote Nearables can be of great help, when they send a reminder, “Hey, it’s time for your pills!”
And the Cloud Beacons are a major advancement to help you connect with expert medical practitioners, so that you know exactly who to consult for your health issues.
The use of sensors in the mobile health sector will increase considerably in the coming years. Accounting for nearly 21% of mHealth apps sensors have already created a market for themselves in the mobile health sector. Moreover, in the coming years sensors will turn into one of the commonest devices of generic use; for instance measuring blood pressure, body temperature and even burning calories.
mHealth will prove to be a commendable step in the healthcare industry in the coming days. The mobile app development companies are already studying and preparing to create worthy solutions for this sector, along with a parallel rise in the number of interested consumers, who will embrace this ecosystem.
To know about the ecosystem created by interaction of devices for easing the life of users, read our blog on Internet of Things.