The mHealth market may be nearing a global tipping point, with more than 500 mobile health projects running around the world, according to a new study by the Boston Consulting Group and Norwegian telecom company Telenor Inc.
Those projects are yielding a host of benefits, researchers say. For example, Norway, Denmark and Sweden all stand to save between 1.2 billion and 2.5 billion Euros by substituting alert/monitoring systems for elderly patients in place of institutional care.
Countries like Hungary and Serbia may be able to reduce hospital bed days by 40,000 or more, with technologies that allow respiratory patients to be tracked in their homes, the study shows.
And maternal/child mHealth projects are saving anywhere from 40,000 to 250,000 mothers' and babies' lives by giving rural moms in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India access to better health education and clinical interventions, according to the study.
Globally those numbers are extrapolated to a 25 percent overall reduction in the cost of caring for the elderly, a 30 percent reduction in maternal/child mortality, and improvement of 30 to 70 percent for patients with COPD, TB and other respiratory diseases worldwide, the study projects.
But telecoms and other players in the mHealth space, including governments, need to tackle the main obstacle to those savings--scalability, researchers say. Being able to scale up the existing projects will take a concerted and coordinated effort between countries and among vendors and providers, Telenor President Jon Fredrik Baksaas says in an announcement.
It's more than possible, given that mobile phone penetration in the global economy will reach 100 percent in just the next five years, according to the study. Using those connections will allow healthcare to reach twice as many rural patients and expand health benefits to millions.
"We are aiming to give access to people who don't have an access to medical services," Baksaas told reporters this week at the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, Priyo.com reports.