mHEALTH represents the acme of innovation in cellular services, it enables anytime, anywhere healthcare
By Shally Makin, Elets News Network (ENN)
Still in its embryonic stage,Â mHEALTH market brings aboutÂ integration of computer, networkingÂ software and hardware technologies,Â such as mobile phones, personalÂ digital assistants, tablets, patientÂ monitoring devices, for providing healthÂ services to patients. The speed ofÂ adoption will vary in different countriesÂ determined by how open the variousÂ stakeholders are to use of mobile basedÂ services.
A PwC report states that mobile healthÂ services will become a billion dollar opportunityÂ for India, Asia Pacific and globalÂ markets by 2017. The report says theÂ market will provide a revenue opportunityÂ worth ` 3,000 crore or USD 0.6 billionÂ for India and USD 23 billion for theÂ world by 2017.
mHEALTH services are growing fastÂ due to two basic factors – firstly the mobileÂ subscriptions are ubiquitous in theÂ emerging market and secondly consumers in developed market access such services forÂ sake of convenience, cost advantage and quality.
|Prof K Ganapathy,
President, ApolloÂ Telemedicine Networking FoundationAnyone, Anytime, AnywhereÂ at AffordAble Cost
As every sixth human and every fifth mobile phone is in IndiaÂ we should logically be leading the world in mHealth. HoweverÂ âAnyone, anytime, anywhere at affordable cost,â âGeography isÂ Historyâ âDistance is Meaninglessâ continue to be just slogans. MostÂ mHealth initiatives continue to be pilots and proof of concept studies.Â We are a long way from incorporating it into the core of our healthcareÂ delivery system. We are suffering from pilotitis. There are fewer pilots inÂ the Indian Air Force than in mHealth. Worldwide, mHealth is an mVASÂ driven by network operators and app developers as it assures a ratherÂ quick return on investment. An apple a day may have kept the doctorÂ away â now apps a day, will keep the doctor far away. Many medicalÂ doctors of yester year feel threatened. They feel that they may becomeÂ redundant. WiiiFM (What is in it For Me) should not be lost sight of. ForÂ this he should view the mobile phone as an enabler, a tool to achieve anÂ end, not his replacement. The potential which mHealth has is truly mindÂ boggling. From simple SMS to act as reminders, to ensure complianceÂ and adherence, to knowledge empowerment, to acting as a peripheralÂ medical device, mobiles can even be used for management of chronicÂ life style diseases and for video teleconsulting. Technology is not theÂ stumbling block. What is required is a business plan, revenue generating,Â self-sustaining and scalable. Effort and time spent on change managementÂ will yield more dividends than talking about 3G and 4G!
Approximately 70 percent healthcareÂ apps are consumer focused, while theÂ remaining 30 percent are designedÂ for medical Â professionals. These appsÂ are typically more sophisticated, andÂ can offer clinicians access to patientÂ information and the ability to conductÂ further analysis, such as creating 3DÂ anatomical models
Despite demand and the obvious potential benefits of mHEALTH, rapid adoption is notÂ yet occurring. The main barrier is not the technology; rather it is the inherent resistance toÂ change. In order to support the successful roll out and adoption of new health services, governments,Â regulators and healthcare providers need to work with mobile operators, deviceÂ vendors and content and application players.
Founder, Dimagi SoftwareCreating Mobility forÂ the End User
The number of non-mobile subscribers across the globe is falling rapidly.Â As mobile subscriptions in India alone approach the one Â billion mark, theÂ penetration, utility, and potential for what a mobile phone can do has createdÂ innumerable opportunities. There is a huge rise in the number of organisationsÂ that are working to enhance the scope of your mobile. As the number ofÂ mobile applications grows, the challenge for us is to figure out which applicationsÂ make a difference. We need the potential of every application and decide whichÂ of them can be scaled up.
Head ofÂ Alliances, RIM IndiaEngineering mHEALTH
To be effective, mHEALTH has to work across geographic, time, social and cultural barriers
MphRx connect, an applicationÂ available on BlackberryÂ smart phones, offers cloudbasedÂ and mobile-based solutions forÂ storing, retrieving and sharing patientÂ health records among hospitals, physiciansÂ and patients across geographiesÂ on mobile devices at all Black-Â Berry platforms and web interfaces.Â There are various formats of healthÂ reports, which can be accessed onÂ mobile phones. From radiology imagesÂ and reports to lab results, the applicationÂ provides solutions to supportÂ a hub-and-spoke model for detectingÂ and monitoring retinopathy conditionsÂ for diabetes patients.
CEO India,Â Orange Business Services
Standardise Operable MethodsÂ to Connect
This industry lacks stable business models that can help reduce the economic and health divide
As per a recent industry study, IndiaâsÂ rural population is well-suitedÂ for mHEALTH programmesÂ due to the high penetration of low-costÂ mobile telephony and given the dearthÂ of qualified medical personnel. TechnologyÂ still presents a challenge forÂ mHEALTH adopters, as we still donâtÂ have that high level of penetration ofÂ mobile and broadband in rural areas.
Orange offers health line in partnershipÂ with Bhutanese Ministry of Health; it facilitatesÂ real time healthcare services, realtimeÂ health advice and 24X7 emergencyÂ responses for the people of Bhutan. TELUS Health Solutions and Orange joinedÂ forces to develop innovative remote monitoringÂ solutions for patients with chronicÂ diseases. A remotely monitored cardiacÂ implant service launched in US and EuropeÂ enables patients to wirelessly uploadÂ data about their heart condition to aÂ doctor using 3G, 2G or landline.
Other services features long-life SIMÂ cards that can cope with extreme conditionsÂ and be used virtually anywhere inÂ the world. Orange is also participatingÂ in the fight against counterfeit drugs inÂ Kenya and Cameroon by providing anÂ SMS-based system, where up to 25 Â percentÂ of drugs are potentially affected.
Apps for m-health
The Embedded Area Network (EAN) is aÂ concept where a cellular module, suchÂ as a SIM card, is embedded in the medicalÂ sensor to communicate to the remoteÂ service via wireless networks. This newÂ market opportunity has seen new devicesÂ in the mHEALTH category appearÂ recently, the desire is to standardise theÂ method of connecting through mobileÂ networks and enable an interoperable
back end with a plug and play front end.
The project partners share the beliefÂ that the ability to seamlessly embed cellularÂ services with medical devices willÂ guarantee compatibility and interoperability,Â and will be a key contributor toÂ the success of mHEALTH. The ultimateÂ objective is to provide an out of the boxÂ experience to consumers, so that theyÂ can access all kinds of medical servicesÂ through their devices.
Solution Architect,Â Symphony TelecaÂ Corporation
In the next few years, innovations in mobile and connectedÂ device technology will fundamentally transform the healthcareÂ landscape, providing new solutions to address chronicÂ disease conditions and revolutionise the way treatments areÂ administered. The monitoring devices are becoming smaller,Â portable and mobile. Technology such as Micro Electro MechanicalÂ Systems (MEMS) is helping in developing miniaturisedÂ biological sensing devices. Using such technologies in wearableÂ devices such as insulin pumps in tele-health applicationsÂ is helping us to stay away from the hospitals thereby reducingÂ the cost and improving the quality of life of diabetic patients.Â Other examples include implantable diagnostics including patientÂ vitals monitor, smart pills and wearable diagnostics.
Use of wearable Personal Emergency Response SystemsÂ (PERS) systems is becoming feasible for them to age and liveÂ in place and independently. Care providers can now monitorÂ the health and activities of their elderly people using wearableÂ activity monitors and fall detection technologies such as theÂ one developed by Wellcore and MobiWatch.
As the cost of quality care is increasing, diagnostic tests areÂ becoming affordable, but not the cure. Therefore people wantÂ to stay fit and are focusing on personal wellness programmesÂ using devices like FitBit and Nintendo Wii. Gym equipmentÂ such as a bicycle or treadmill can talk with your mobile phoneÂ using ANT+ wireless protocol and one can track his activityÂ and compare against goals.
One of the challenges ofÂ todayâs technologies is affordability.Â Secondly, recodingÂ of your vital parametersÂ is considered a time Â consumingÂ activity. One has toÂ measure his weight, bloodÂ pressure, heart rate, pulseÂ rate, temperature separatelyÂ and record it somewhere.Â Innovators are trying to useÂ mobile handsets to performÂ vital functions like monitoring of temperature, heart rate,Â pulse rate, BP monitoring instead of having a new device. AÂ solution to automate the capture of data such as a wearableÂ vitals patch is needed. Standards such as IEEE 11073 standardÂ is making it possible to provide seamless connectivity ofÂ different systems and Â provide better and accurate health solutions.
Overall the challenge is behavioural and we need a solutionÂ which can motivate the user to take required actions. This isÂ possible though mobile based friendly medication reminders,Â incentive programmes, prizes, medical games and continuousÂ education.
Co-FounderÂ and Director, mCarbon TechÂ Innovation
We live in a world thatâsÂ connected wirelesslyÂ with almost as manyÂ mobile subscribers as there areÂ people on the planet. Mobility byÂ its very nature implies that usersÂ are always part of a network, whichÂ radically increases the variety, velocity,Â volume and value of Â informationÂ they send and receive.
mHealth involves the use and capitalisationÂ on a mobile phoneâs core utility of voiceÂ and short messaging service (SMS) as wellÂ as more complex functionalities and applicationsÂ including GPRS, 3G and 4G systems,Â GPS, and bluetooth. Moreover changes inÂ the ICT environment are also affecting mhealthÂ VAS initiatives, such as the shift fromÂ SMS to interactive voice response (IVR).
Just as SMS-based services have oftenÂ been linked to voice communications byÂ hotlines and toll-free numbers, IVR offersÂ a more comprehensive toolkit for reachingÂ out to illiterate people. The ubiquity of MVASÂ solutions offers tremendous opportunitiesÂ for the healthcare industry to addressÂ one of the most pressing global challenges:Â making healthcare more accessible, faster,Â better and Â cheaper. The use of mobileÂ and wireless technologies to support theÂ achievement of health objectives (mHealth)Â has the potential to transform the face ofÂ health service delivery across the globe.
A powerful combination of factors isÂ driving this change. These include rapidÂ advances in mobile technologies and applications,Â a rise in new opportunities forÂ the integration of mobile health into existingÂ eHealth services, and the continued growthÂ in coverage of mobile cellular networks.Â mHealth applications can be used for supplyÂ chain management, reducing delays inÂ medicine shipments and providing point-ofuseÂ technologies for consumers to verify theÂ authenticity of products they buy.
Value Added Products and ServicesÂ [VAS] for opcos and enterprises has recentlyÂ developed a product for pregnantÂ women to count their babyâs movement; itÂ is an easy, non-invasive test that one can doÂ at home through a simple service subscriptionÂ to check their babyâs well-being. âBabyÂ Kicksâ is much more than just knowing thatÂ the baby moves!