Report: mHealth has been invaluable in real-time monitoring of diseases

The pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers are successfully leveraging mHealth technologies to improve healthcare services and treatment outcomes in developing countries, according to a new report from GBI Research.

As the report reveals, each year more than $4 trillion is spent on healthcare, yet only around 10 percent of that amount is spent in developing economies, despite the fact that they account for more than four-fifths of the global population. The report points out that in many low and middle-income countries' mobile phone networks often surpass other infrastructure such as paved roads and electricity, reaching rural and fragmented communities that traditional healthcare facilities cannot easily serve.

The report examines how mHealth programs in the emerging economies and the developed world can help to bridge the gap within under-resourced healthcare systems. GBI Research's analysis concludes that mHealth has huge potential to bridge the gap within existing healthcare systems but highlights the significant differences in the rate of adoption of mHealth in the developed world.

"While the developed world has adopted a doctor-centric healthcare model, whereby a healthcare professional represents a patient's gateway to patient care, the developing world lacks such resources and is thus more receptive to a patient-centric model," states a GBI Research press release. "Communication is vital for the healthcare system to function effectively, and mHealth technologies can collate, transfer and analyze medical information, with web-based platforms and mobile apps providing channels of communication between physicians and patients."

According to the report, mHealth technologies have proved invaluable for disease surveillance, enabling real-time monitoring of malaria in Botswana, and dengue fever in Mexico. The report also highlights the mHealth Alliance, hosted by the United Nations Foundation, which brings together governments, charities, and software companies to provide mHealth solutions in low and middle-income countries. Its projects include the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action, which educates low-income expectant mothers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa by distributing health information via mobile phones.

The mHealth Alliance has identified five critical areas that need to be addressed if mHealth is to become main stream in global health: evidence building, standards and interoperability, sustainable financing, capacity building and policy. This will only be achieved if all stakeholders (patients, healthcare professionals and providers, pharmaceutical industry, mobile network operators and governments) work together to determine the ways in which mHealth can add value and provide significant advantages over traditional routes of healthcare communication, the report states.

According to another recent report, North America commands the largest share of mHealth market revenue, followed by Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Although the mHealth market has seen increasing influence from emerging economies, the highest per capita expenditure on mHealth applications will continue to be from developed regions such as the U.S. and Canada, due to an increasing percentage of chronic diseases and higher disposable income, the report concludes.

To learn more:
- read the report