In a blog last March, I asked the question: Is mHealth Good for You?
There was a fair amount of hype and hoopla around the tremendous growth of these apps. The research and consulting firm research2guidance predicted that the mHealth market would grow to $26 billion by 2017. HIMSS' annual convention, where mHealth was a dominant theme, had just wrapped up. Samsung was releasing a new smartphone preloaded with several mHealth apps, and so on …
Well, the hype has hardly died down. Earlier this week, Markets and Markets released a report saying that the mHealth app market will grow by a compound annual growth rate of 25 percent between now and 2018, ultimately hitting $20.7 billion, which is slightly below the research2guidance estimate. Markets and Markets expects the rapid rise to come from greater attention to chronic disease management, the growth of 3G and 4G networks, and better all-around connectivity, among other things.
Again, I have to ask: Where's the evidence that mHealth is good for you? Is it achieving better clinical outcomes?
It is a topic I covered with Eric Topol, M.D., at the Health Forum/AHA Leadership Summit in late July. As many of you know, Topol is one of the biggest proponents of having health care adopt more mobile technology overall. He also acknowledges that more studies need to be done to understand how to use the technology efficiently and effectively.
Some of those efforts are already under way. Last month, for instance, ONC awarded a $1.7 million grant to the Georgia Department of Community Health to test its MyJourney Compass. Using tablets and mobile apps, the program aims to improve patient-to-doctor communication, doctor-to-doctor communication and, ultimately, keep everyone up-to-date on a patient's health status.
Our lives are digital and mobile in every way, shape and form these days. mHealth seems to have a great deal of potential to improve care delivery if it is adopted in meaningful ways. It's also important, I think, that we don't lose sight of some of health care's persistent challenges in this march toward mobility — underserved areas and populations, access and coverage, the cost of care, and more.