mHealth is an emerging segment in the field of healthcare, says Gurbans Chatwal, Co-founder and Head of partnerships, Mobilitas, in conversation with Nikita Apraj, Elets News Network (ENN)
What are the driving factors in using mobile devices in healthcare in India?
There are three driving factors that underline the importance of smartphones and other mobile devices in healthcare. The first factor is reach. With a 20-fold growth of active mobile users in the last three years, mobile devices have made the jump over any economic divide that exists across urban and rural areas. Broadband penetration on the other hand is quite scarce outside the metropolitan areas and stands at a low of seven percent. Second factor is affordability. Development of various healthcare-related consumer and medical apps will allow people to have easy access to customised information and to specialised care when it is not available locally. This savesprecious time and money spent by patients in travelling and cost of care. Third factor is productivity. Emergence of applications that can be integrated for better analytics and clinical decision support intervention will allow paramedics and nurses to perform more value adding tasks.
To what extent has mHealth advanced in other countries?
The recent PwC report gives a good snapshot across emerging economies and developed nations. It is an emerging field and US leads the way in technology and user adoption maturity. Some studies have shown that about 30 percent of consumers in US use mobile phone for health. Interestingly, we see that even though millions of healthcare related apps have been downloaded, doctors in the US typically do not use more than seven on a daily basis and about 60 percent doctors in US use mHealth through their tablets or mobile phones. The growing popularity and serious use has now attracted Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for medical apps in US.
What are the concerns related to mHealth?
There are two points that are most concerning. Firstly, mHealth uses mobile and other wireless devices to monitor and collect personal health data, and deliver healthcare information. This makes data security a major concern, as patient information is sensitive and confidential. The other key concern is acceptance of not just the technology but also the solution by various stakeholders such as doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. The role of government in creating an enabling environment will be critical to achieve a steep adoption cycle.
Tell us on some of the technologies behind a robust mHealth platform?
We as a company are rooted to the belief that a Mobile First strategy and focus on design are absolutely important for creating disruptive innovations and pleasant experiences. This applies to mHealth platform also where the solution designed with mobility at its heart should integrate the entire lifecycle of healthcare services. It should offer a connectivity and collaboration platform for all stakeholders such as doctors, pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, pathology labs, payment systems, insurance companies, etc. In the next five to ten years we can expect to see diagnostics, tele-medicine and personalised treatments to be sufficiently impacted to create new paradigms. The technology stack of today such as 3G/4G networks, cloud infrastructure, iOS/Android OS, etc. are adequate. There are instead need for innovative business models and solutions, and interoperability and integration with existing infrastructure. The future will see monkey proof apps that are intuitive to use, accessibility to real time data and analytics, and intelligent clinical decision support intervention.