In contrast to healthcare access, mobile access is becoming almost ubiquitous worldwide. The increasing penetration of smartphones as well as 3G and 4G networks will provide a significant boost to the use of mobile platforms for providing healthcare services. Mobile health (mHealth) stands at a significant inflection point.
The Australian healthcare industry generated revenue worth A $370 million in 2012 from data, voice and mobile services. This does not include revenue generated by sale of mobile apps and devices. According to Rhenu Bhuller, Vice President of Healthcare, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, the Connected Health market for Australia is driven by the shift in emphasis from acute care to prevention. The centuries old relationship between doctor and patient is changing in a massive way, driven with increased velocity by mobile and wireless technologies.
"We can see that there is a shift from the hospital approach to a personal-driven approach i.e. home care, where people will take care of themselves with help from family, friends and technologies. Mobile Health will become one of the biggest business model disruptors creating access for healthcare delivery on a mass basis," she said.
The market for healthcare mobile data, voice and services in APAC was estimated at A $7.6 billion in 2012 with Australia accounting for almost 5% of this figure. With the penetration of 3G, 3.5G and 4G rapidly increasing in the country, Frost & Sullivan expects the evolution of transformational business models in the market.
The growing coverage of mobile networks and the increasing number of active subscribers emerges to be a major driving force for mHealth interventions and the plethora of applications continues to increase in diversity with new innovations. Clinical findings to date pinpoint mobile diabetes management systems as the highest growth potential sector presently and for the next four years.
"Many mobile medical devices are now connected to medical information technology networks and IT networks are these days remotely accessible through the medical devices. This stands out as a desirable developmental trend," said Bhuller.
She continued, "Through the use of mobile devices, patients have immense possibilities for adequate recordings of biomedical signals at home which include glucose analysis, respiratory parameters, blood pressure measurements, and electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings. The storage capacity, faster computing speeds, ease of use, and portability render mobile devices an optimal solution in terms of diagnosis and monitoring of chronic conditions."