Mobile Health, or mHealth as it’s commonly called, is helping transform healthcare, with three effects—
- Improving Outcomes
- Reducing Costs
- Extending Access.
There are, according to Research2Guidance, over 97,000 health or fitness apps in the Google Play (Android) or iTunes (iPhone) store, 58% of which are free, 42% of which cost $.99 and up.
We’re calling this recurring column “Now or Later?” because that‘s what mHealth has become — in any given healthcare segment, mHealth can deliver one or more of the above effects either Now, or Later.
And if Later, it’s likely to be relatively soon. Think months, not years.
First, a definition: mHealth is health screening, diagnosis and even therapy delivered in whole or in part via the smartphone or tablet, or a small proprietary device that moves its data via cell phone networks or broadband.
This means that even in developing countries, where traditional phone lines have never been rooted, there is a terrific opportunity to serve patients, because cell networks have gone in, or are going in. Access is being extended.
Three phenomena have collided here in 2013 to make mHealth torrid:
a. The cost of sending data via big wireless network players such as AT&T and Verizon has declined and continues to decline precipitously.
b. There used to be mHealth vendors that were small-but-mighty. Increasingly, they are big-and-mighty, with significant funding or revenue from traditional offerings, and the ability to persist in what will be a marathon, not a sprint.
c. Healthcare is a triangle and mHealth swiftly moves data from corner-to-corner: Patients, Doctors and Health Insurance Companies. There’s a saying we have when we think about especially Patients & Doctors– you have to collect the dots before you can connect the dots. And mHealth means more dots moved in real-time or near real-time to medical professionals who make the essential interpretations.
How about you? — any health or fitness apps on your smartphone, or tablet? In the next blog post, we’ll highlight the apps in healthcare that America is finding the most compelling.
Pete Celano is an mHealth advocate, expert and productizer. On twitter: @petecelano