mHealth: Harnessing Growth and Innovation
Investment in healthcare technology has never been higher: between 2013 and 2014, venture capital investments alone in digital health doubled from $2.2 to $4.7 billion globally. With an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.5% between now and 2020, the potential for market innovation and development is vast. The impetus for growth in mHealth is, in part, driven by rapid technological innovation and increasing consumer demand. Furthermore, as healthcare systems continue to scrutinise their cost structure and identify ways to drive efficiencies, there is a growing interest in unlocking the potential of healthcare technology. Through mHealth, Member States can deliver more patient-focused healthcare, putting responsibility on citizens for better managing their own health and well-being. The opportunity is accurately captured in the European Commission’s Green Paper on Mobile Health, which highlights efficiencies such as a reduced number of patient consultations. On a larger scale, developed countries are expected to save up to $400 billion in annual healthcare costs by 2017 as a result of innovation in mHealth.
The definition of mHealth is broad: it covers the medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), as well as lifestyle and well-being apps that can connect to medical devices or sensors. The challenge now for both industry and policy makers is to segment the market effectively and ensure that there is a robust legal and market framework in place to capture the opportunities, ensure growth and sustainability, whilst at the same time affording patients the highest protection. The European Commission is seeking to address this under the banner of the Digital Society, one of the key pillars of the Digital Agenda for Europe 2020. We analyse below the progress to date.