By Sarianne Gruber
Smart Insights, a provider of specialized information on the secured transactions industry, and brings the latest information on the mHealth industry in their April 2015 white paper, “mHealth Market in the US at a Glance”. A recommended read that covers the three distinct mHealth product types on the market, a global mHealth market assessment on current trends and drivers, where the industry faces its challenges for growth, the need for an extensive security framework, and the complex regulatory issues the US market must address. A look at three currently in-use device types and the challenges that the industry must triumph to in order to expand adoption are presented here.
The Three mHealth Device Types
mHealth device technology can have “an embedded sensor that contains a cellular module to transmit data, connects via a short-range technology to a router which then transmits out the information; or connects via a short –range technology or that plug directly into a smart device”. Smart Insights three device categories are:
Health Promotion Devices – Probably the most easily recognized devices are mHealth fitness and wellness devices. Commonly worn wearables, non wearables and smart watches are used to track health measures such as calories, temperature and pulse data. A product requisite is a specific software solution to input data collection and interpret results. The mobile health global market report 2013- 2017 estimates that there are 97,000 mhealth apps, which are currently available across multiple platforms on the global market, and approximately 70% of mhealth products are targeted to the consumer wellness and fitness segments.
Remote Diagnostic & Assisted Living Devices – These devices track health parameters for medical or personal use, and are either health diagnostic meters or monitoring devices. These products are used as stand-alone solutions for quick delivery of results or communicating them to healthcare providers, and are staying competitive with solutions compatible with mobile phones and smart devices.
Decision Support Devices – These solutions are used exclusively for medical purposes by and for healthcare providers, and permit patients to manage care from home. Alerts trigger alarms when critical conditions are detected. Examples of solutions include respirators, infusion pumps and portable ECGs. Certification is needed and a product’s ability to conform to different standards, given that the data collected has serious implications to patient’s life. The International Organization for Standardization published in 2003 the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system for the design and manufacture of medical devices.
The Barriers to mHealth Adoption
Smart Insights research states “healthcare’s strong resistance to innovation and industrialization has slowed down mHealth adoption”. mHealth challenges include:
- Technology Healthcare has not taken advantage of the range of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) opportunities as other social sectors.
- Security Privacy and sensitivity of processing of health-related data given the ability to identify someone’s personal data. Special protection is needed; consequences can result if misinterpreted or misused by others.
- Privacy Huge amounts of data collected on a regular basis including sensitive information. Safeguards need to be established so persons can use solutions with confidence.
- Big Data Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported in 2009 that “personal sensor data is expected to grow from 10% of all stored information to approximately 90% within the next decade”. Solutions must not be misused by third parties.
- Regulation The health market presents a very demanding regulatory environment. Innovations must have rigorous examination of the both benefits and harms for patients. Consequently development lifecycles take long with expensive certifications.
- Interoperability and standardization Many proprietary systems that are hard to integrate, thus raising multi-layered interoperability issues.
- Patient and industry resistance Technological constraints, cultural aspects and lack of awareness of and confidence in mHealth solutions among patient, citizens and healthcare providers have prevented its mass deployment. Healthcare resistance is twofold: (1) providers reluctant due to concerns of possibly losing control over patients, and (2) patients not having reimbursement plans for mHealth services.
Smart Insights Reports is published by Intelling, a consultancy headquartered in Marseille, France. Intelling is a consultancy with two expertise majors: marketing and strategy for secure transactions, smart cards, telecoms, payment, and convergence, as well as market intelligence, for all industry fields. The full report can be accessed by clicking “mHealth Market in the US at a Glance”.