mHealth market scales to new heights

In the U.S. last year, some 95 million Americans were using mHealth technologies

Over the next six years, the global mHealth market will continue to make a mark in a serious way, with the industry poised to exceed $49.1 billion by 2020, according to a new market report.

According to research conducted by San Francisco-based market analysis and consulting firm Grand View Research, monitoring services are projected to remain the dominant and most rapidly growing market segment, with revenue topping $1.2 billion in 2012, and seeing a nearly 50 percent CAGR from 2014 to 2020.

Although healthcare expenditures are among the lowest rates on record -- a 3.7 percent spending increase in 2012, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services -- they are still on an upward trajectory, making medical services unaffordable for a percentage of the population, report officials point out. Resultantly, hospitals, providers and payers are looking to the financially favorable mHealth market.

[See also: Growth in the cards for mobile market and mHealth enters consumer Golden Age.]

Just in the U.S. last year, some 95 million Americans were using mHealth technologies, up 27 percent from the year before, according to a recent Manhattan Research Cybercitizen Health study.

In addition to smartphone proliferation, uptake of 3G and 4G networks is poised to fuel the demand for telehealth services. Aging population and growing incidences of diseases linked to changing lifestyles have intensified the need for affordable and accessible healthcare. Concerns among users, regarding the safety and privacy of information, along with the need for secure infrastructure, are the key challenges for market participants.

For Dave Whitlinger, executive director of New York eHealth Collaborative, mHealth represents an opportunity to reduce emergency department visits specifically for chronically ill patients who come in as a result of poorly managing their care plans. If doctors and care providers can adopt mHealth solutions to help patients avoid lapses in care plans, that could represent some big cost savings. And these solutions require tapping into health information exchange.  

Health information exchange among providers, patients and payers is a "public good," Whitlinger said at an eHealth conference last year. "Nobody really wants electricity," he added. They want vacuum cleaners, lights, heat -- all the things that go with electricity. Similarly, "Nobody really wants health information exchange. They want their records to be liquid; they want records to be available" at their fingertips.

[See also: Wireless health market poised for growth and mHealth brings, 'Can you heal me now?'.]

Other key findings from the report include:

• Chronic disease management was the largest contributor to the monitoring services market, with higher demand from developed markets of North America and Europe. The market for post acute care services accounted for 19.5 percent of the overall monitoring services revenue in 2012. 
• Mobile operators accounted for nearly half of the overall market in 2012, with majority of their revenue originating from monitoring services such as independent aging solutions. The market for healthcare providers is expected to grow slower than the global average, at an estimated CAGR of 45.1 percent from 2014 to 2020. 
• North America dominated the global market, accounting for nearly 34 percent of total revenue in 2012. Highest demand originated from monitoring services, with growing incidences of chronic diseases necessitating the need for mHealth solutions among others. Driven by the need for accessible healthcare, the Asia Pacific market is expected to the fastest growing regional market, at an estimated CAGR of 49.1 percent from 2014 to 2020.
• The market comprises of many stakeholders including mobile operators, device vendors, healthcare providers as well as content players. Companies operating in the market differ on the basis of their offering, and play a key role in overall mHealth adoption. Strategic collaborations and partnerships with healthcare providers, and resolving standardization and interoperability issues are essential for mass acceptance.