The pandemic of novel coronavirus that started in the month of December 2019 in Wuhan city in China, caused a grave health emergency around the world. In the absence of any vaccine or drug effective to treat the virus the governments began to search for alternatives to control and mitigate the burden of pandemic. Lockdowns, travel bans, isolations and quarantine and social distancing are the measures that are currently being implemented by governments to contain the spread. Pertaining to its high rate of transmission, the WHO also emphasized on the need to intensify active surveillance to identify, isolate and quarantine infected individuals . The infected show flu-like symptoms that can further lead to severe respiratory conditions, but there also lies a fragment of population that might be active carriers and yet remain asymptomatic.…
|Source: Grand View Research|
Mobile health highlights the risks and opportunities of pharmaceutical and Medtech industries. Surge in number of purely digital players transformed the mHealth app market
According to the estimates of Grand View Research, the global mHealth market size was valued at USD 4.75 billion in 2014 and is expected to witness substantial gains throughout the forecast period. Improvement in 3G & 4G networks and favorable government initiatives in healthcare IT owing to increase in demand for such services. According to WHO Global Observatory for eHealth, about 58% of the health authorities around the globe is involved in the development and adoption of mHealth in health sector. High penetration of smartphones coupled with technological advancement in smartphone applications is also anticipated to further boost up the demand for mHealth services.
Furthermore, the growing adoption of mobile applications paved the way for driving up the demand for various mHealth apps that can be used for fitness tracking, diagnostic & monitoring, consultation, medical information & education services, chronic care management, and ageing solutions. Growing demand for mHealth technology to provide remote patient monitoring services and to run surveillance programs in developing countries, which is further anticipated to propel the market growth. However, lack of reimbursement policies, poor network coverage especially in emerging economies, and data security issues can hamper the growth of mHealth market.
|Source: Grand View Research|
mHealth: Market Segmentation
Based on the services, the market is segmented as monitoring services, diagnosis services, healthcare system strengthening, and other services. Monitoring services accounted for major share of over 65% in 2016 pertaining to the factors such as increasing ageing population and rising incidence of chronic diseases such as obesity & diabetes, congestive heart failure, cancer. mHealth helps in monitoring of various health parameters such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and nutrient intake.
There is continuous advancements in diagnostic device technology that integrates digital technology in medical devices. It enables patients to send clinical data to the healthcare providers through their smartphones. Healthcare system strengthening services provide healthcare surveillance and administration, emergency response and support to healthcare providers. Other services consist of prevention and wellness of patients through mHealth applications. It focused on elderly care, drug abuse prevention, child and women care, smoking de-addiction and healthy living.
Mobile operators held the largest market share of about 49% in 2016. MNO’s provide 3G and 4G broadband network coverage. mHealth allows healthcare professionals to handle appointments and to monitor remote patients. Device vendors are involved in integrating digital technology in medical devices that allows transmission of clinical data such as blood pressure, heart rate, blood-glucose levels and others. Leading vendors such as Biotrick, Medtronic, ResMed and Philips Respironics are successfully using this technology.
Some of the key factors attributing to the market growth include rising number of health and wellness apps with growing adoption of smartphones by population. Asia pacific region is expected to be the fastest growing segment with a CAGR of 27.2% over the forecast period.
The growth in the region is driven by the factors such increased healthcare awareness, improving network infrastructure, rising rural population and government initiatives towards digitalization in countries like India and China.
In addition, improving internet connectivity, reduction in costs and increasing use of mHealth for various surveillance and awareness programs for rural areas drive the growth of mHealth in the region. Growing number of surveillance programs for AIDS & other infectious disease and rising incidence of chronic diseases in Latin America and Middle East Asia drives the demand for mHealth applications.
More than 330 million smartphone users and rapidly falling bandwidth prices are redefining how essential services are delivered in India. There would be 900 million smartphone subscribers by 2023 and smartphone traffic is expected to grow 11 times to 14 EB in another five years*. India also has one of the lowest Internet data rates in the world, as low as 10 INR (approx 6 U.S.cents) /1GB/day. While much has been talked about India as an ecommerce market, adoption of mobile internet for foundational services like education, healthcare and financial services and across different consumer segments is something new and fast catching up.
India has one doctor for every 1700 people, and if one considers only post-graduates, this ratio is pretty dismal at one doctor for every 5000 people. Access to health services in India is highly inequitable, translating into major disparities in health outcomes along demographic lines. There are 1000 primary healthcare cases & about 100 secondary healthcare cases reported in a hospital everyday and this number is rising.
Spread of chronic and lifestyle diseases is growing at an alarming pace and much of it will end up in tertiary care if not managed and intervened at appropriate time. Focussing on primary and secondary care is important in our country as it pushes a prevention mindset and helps people manage their health spends better. However, we can not depend on physical channels alone for primary care delivery as it is very expensive and also slow to scale. Physical infrastructure both in cities and in rural areas is proving to be an impediment and isn’t able to catch up fast enough, adding to massive delays in patient getting to the point of care.
Technology is the only viable solution to be able to cope with low doctor-patient ratio, predominantly out-of-pocket spending and inaccessibility of quality care.
We are going to see India leapfrog the methods of healthcare delivery that were adopted in the developed nations, and mobile will be at the centre of this disruption. Let us look at some of the areas where mobile will transform the delivery of primary and secondary healthcare.
Speed means Quality: Because in healthcare, early detection and timely intervention helps in avoiding further complications, prevents additional issues and reduces the use of powerful and/or too many drugs. Cases of patients visiting a doctor after symptoms have worsened and the consequent use of antibiotics is becoming all too common in India. Another important case where speed matters is in the case of viral epidemics where lack of timely information and intervention leads it to spread like a wildfire.
Connected care is the right care: We recently saw an example of an elderly woman, diagnosed to have dengue, recovering completely without stepping out of her home. She was able to do so by being continuously connected to the doctor and her treatment being monitored remotely. The current system of care delivery doesn’t leverage the connectivity that’s available to everyone through mobile. Quick reminders for patients to take their medicines on time, checking with them on how they are recovering from illness and the provider’s continuous vigilance, particularly in chronic conditions and situations like pregnancy and child growth are all possible in this age of always-on connectivity. Such proactive care makes the doctors and the providers more effective, accessible and reliable.
More personal Point of Care: Mobile will help reaching the doctor without going to the doctor. From answering to health queries, providing serious consultations and enabling long term care, the care starts and sustains through this little device in our hand. The power of this phenomenon is immense. The discreteness and the personalization one needs in healthcare is now possible and caters to all kinds of people and their varied requirements. A couple planning for a baby, a busy working professional, a young parent or someone taking care of dependents – we all can attend to our life and to our health with equal priority. When the doctors visit becomes a matter of firing up the app, and taking out few minutes, we will do a much better job of taking care of our health.
The future is a system where healthcare provided by all the trusted institutions around us is on-demand and easy to access. It will be exciting to see how mobile will truly empower each one of us to take care of our health.
*according to latest annual report by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI)