Guest post by Daniel Piekarz, Vice President of Business Development, Life Sciences, DataArt.
mHealth is a broad category of healthcare technology including medical, health and wellness applications and devices. The mHealth market is exploding because of the vast interest in the space and a relatively low cost of entry. We are seeing the marketplace grow at a very rapid pace with likely more than 100,000 apps available on the market today.
Why is there so much excitement around the mHealth market? The platform that mHealth runs on has expanded around the entire globe with nearly 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide. This is equal to more than 95 percent of the world’s population as estimated by The International Telecommunication Union. This 7 billion includes 1.75 billion smartphone users globally, according to eMarketer. The world is more connected today than ever before and this has laid the foundation for the mHealth market to begin its climb into the mainstream.
But is the market ready?
In many ways the excitement in the market reminds me of the excitement that swarmed during the early 90s regarding the Internet. Every company was entering the space, trying all sorts of new business models and many companies were simply copying others trying to get in on the action. Unfortunately, as we saw with the Internet bubble, high levels of excitement around technology without a clear focus on the problem we are trying to solve can cause very expensive mistakes.
While government and patients are pushing for change in healthcare, a survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers reveals doctors are less optimistic and more resistant to the disruption mHealth holds for their traditional roles. Only 27 percent encourage patients to use mHealth applications to become more active in managing their health; 13 percent actively discourage mHealth and 42 percent of doctors worry that mHealth will make patients too independent, and it seems to be the younger doctors who are the most worried, with 24 percent of them discouraging mHealth use.
The results of the PwC survey reflect what I have seen when discussing mHealth with doctors. The fear that patients will try to diagnose themselves, the fear of a relatively unregulated market and the lack of evidence-based information, a general fear of change. Yet the same survey states that 60 percent of doctors and payers feel that the wide adoption of mHealth is inevitable in the next few years.