Although mobile health is already a reality, many initiatives are struggling with scale. These is a key finding of a study looking at the potential reach and breadth of mobile health innovations in both developed and emerging markets. The survey, which was commissioned by Telenor Group and carried out by The Boston Consulting Group, analysed the impact that mHealth initiatives can have in 12 countries.
The findings from the research showed that more than 500 mobile health projects are currently taking place around the world, and suggests that costs in elderly care can be reduced by 25 per cent with mobile healthcare, while maternal and perinatal mortality can be reduced by 30 per cent using mHealth.
The technology richness and network capacity is sufficient, both on simple feature phones and on smart devices, according to Telenor, and the technology allows twice as many rural patients worldwide to be reached per doctor. The firm also said that the necessary infrastructure is already in everyone’s hands, with 7.4 billion mobile subscriptions projected by 2015.
“Mobile health is already a reality, with hundreds of projects launched worldwide. However, many projects are struggling with achieving scale. Both regulatory actions and ecosystem collaboration is required to create the necessary scale. We need to commit to common standards, increase access to mobile services and document the impact of mobile health,” said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and CEO at Telenor Group.
And the results drive home the scale of innovation occurring in mobile health, and also provides a taste of how diverse services are according to Charlie Davies, principal analyst at Ovum.
“These range from the provision of pre-natal information provided via mobile phones for pregnant women in India to significant potential reductions in costs for elderly care at home using mobile alarm and communication systems.”
“The industry as a whole needs to ram home the benefits of E-health to sceptical policy makers, which will require a significant amount of patient stakeholder engagement.”
Telenor Group has launched a number of mobile health initiatives across its markets. For example, in Norway, an assisted living project helps the elderly stay longer at home through mobile alarm systems. In Thailand, a mobile text messaging service provides epidemic surveillance. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, a service called Healthline provides patients with a simple number to dial for both serious and non-serious medical needs and In India, mothers can obtain critical information about prenatal health via their phones.