mHealth consultation launched
European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes was unequivocal in her support for the emerging area: “mHealth will reduce costly visits to hospitals, help citizens take charge of their own health and well-being, and move towards prevention rather than cure. It is also a great opportunity for the booming app economy and for entrepreneurs,” she said.
Outlining benefits from better use of mHealth services the Commission said the technology would: put patients in control, enabling them with greater independence and helping to prevent health problems; make healthcare systems more efficient, with huge potential for cost savings; and create opportunities for innovative services, start-ups and the app economy.
The European app economy is already worth €17.5 billion and has generated 1.8 million jobs, thus the economic issue is an important one.
In addition, the Commission says that if the full potential of mHealth is “unlocked” it could save a further €99 billion in healthcare costs across the EU, providing issues like mHealth app safety, usage of data, etc. are addressed.
It is now more than two years since the first mobile health app was registered in the UK as a medical device. Subsequent developments of significance to the Commission include strategies in the USA, where for example the FDA took a tailored approach to mobile health app regulation last year.
The three month consultation will run until July and the Commission hopes to engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, including patient organizations, healthcare professionals, app developers and mobile device manufacturers.
European Commissioner for Health, Tonio Borg said: “mHealth has a great potential to empower citizens to manage their own health and stay healthy longer, to trigger greater quality of care and comfort for patients, and to assist health professionals in their work. As such, exploring mHealth solutions can contribute to modern, efficient and sustainable health systems.”