mHealth: Embraced by developing world, resisted by developed countries
A new study of the global mHealth market finds that consumers and developing countries are driving its growth, while physicians are reluctant to adapt.
[See also: Doctor or patient? Who will drive mHealth?]
Those are some of the conclusions drawn from “Emerging Health: Paths for Growth,” published by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The 48-page report, based on two separate surveys conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and analyzing 10 nations, indicates developing nations are quicker to accept and adopt telehealth because it’s seen as a way to increase access to healthcare, while developed nations like the United States are being dogged down by regulatory hurdles and a resistance to change among providers.
“Consumers are demanding and payers are willing to pay, but providers aren’t willing to provide,” said Christopher Wasden, PwC’s global healthcare innovation leader. “What we are going to need to do is get providers to think and act differently.”
“To what extent are physicians in their country willing to adapt?” he asked.
Wasden and David Levy, MD, also a global healthcare leader for PwC, said mHealth is more of a disruptive force in developed nations because it challenges the status quo and forces providers and payers to accept that patients have more control of their healthcare choices. Wasden said many doctors are wary of giving the patient more access to medical data and control because they fear – incorrectly – that they will lose business.
In developing countries, meanwhile, mHealth is seen as a new market with exciting possibilities. New startups and business models, with assistance from the telecommunications sector, Wasden said, are driving mHealth to unprecedented levels of growth. That, he said, is why the African nations and India are among the hotbeds for new innovation in mHealth.
In developed nations, meanwhile, providers – and to a lesser extent payers – say there are too many barriers to mHealth. More than one-quarter of those surveyed in both categories say the conservative culture in healthcare is a leading barrier; others include complex regulations and technology, lack of access to wireless services; and massive changes to the physician’s workload.
Nearly half of the patients surveyed, meanwhile, indicate that in the next three years, mHealth will improve the convenience (46 percent), cost (52 percent) and quality (48 percent) of their healthcare.