Robust growth ahead for global mHealth market

While the global mHealth market is expected to hit $21.5 billion in four years, with to an annual grow rate of 54.9 percent, a new analysis also reveals North America's days as the biggest market may be numbered.                      

The fastest growing mHealth segment, Europe, has been busy making investments in health infrastructure and developing proactive government-funded mHealth efforts, said BCC Healthcare Analyst Cheryl Barton, author of the BCC Research report, "Mobile Health (mHealth) Technologies and Global Markets." BCC Research is a publisher of technology market research reports based in Wellesley, Mass.

"Europe has been proactive in developing government-funded mHealth initiatives and several high profile non-profit organizations such as the European mHealth Alliance, European Health Forum Gastein and European Connected Health Alliance have been established to raise the profile and evaluate the potential value of mHealth across Europe," Barton told FierceMobileHealthcare. She noted the European Commission plans to issue an mHealth greenpaper in 2014 to establish how quality and transparency can be established in the mHealth sector.

The news comes as the U.S. is now grappling with regulatory decision making regarding mHealth apps and devices, an issue that could likely slow the government's mHealth market growth. The U.S. also hasn't yet created such a long list of groups and organizations to spur mHealth adoption and use. Yet the U.S. is enjoying a steady stream of mHealth software and new device technologies.

The study reveals patient monitoring devices, as of 2012, was the top segment for U.S. mHealth, accounting for 70 percent of sales ($420 million).

"Significant opportunities still exist [in the U.S.] in the development of remote monitoring applications, particularly following the positive shift in insurers' attitudes to mHealth technologies and its potential impact on long term healthcare cost savings," said Barton, noting that in 2013, Bluestar (an interactive remote monitoring application for diabetic patients) became the first-ever Food and Drug Administration approved mobile application to be reimbursed by health insurance providers.

Barton said another fast-growing U.S. mHealth segment includes diagnostics, education and training services, which are being spurred on by increasing mobile device use by healthcare professionals and the general public.  Barton said revenues are forecasted to reach around $1 billion in 2018, due to an annual growth rate of 55.5 percent.

"Informative apps, educational text messaging services and eLearning via iPads are emerging to drive this field forward," she explained.

The smallest, and slowest, growing segment of the overall mHealth market remains finance and administration, logistics and data collection, said Barton.

"Big data management remains a significant restraint to mHealth and a streamlined data management system will be of prime importance in this region for easy access and cost effective implementation of mHealth technologies," Barton said.

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