mHealth Embraced by Emerging Economies to Examine and Educate
The huge disparity in healthcare provisions across the globe has fueled the uptake of mobile technologies, particularly in remote and underserved communities, states a recent report by healthcare experts GBI Research.
The new report* studies the growing role of mobile health, or mHealth, in developing countries, as mobile-enabled technologies such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets are facilitating the care of populations often in poverty.
Each year over $4 trillion is spent on healthcare, but only around 10% of this is spent in developing economies, even though they account for over four fifths of the global population and have the highest demands for healthcare. However, advances in mobile technologies and the expansion of telecommunication networks are opening doors for healthcare providers. Wireless mobile signals now cover over 85% of the world’s population, and the penetration of mobile phone networks often surpasses other infrastructure such as paved roads and electricity in many low- and middle-income countries, reaching rural and fragmented communities that traditional healthcare facilities cannot easily serve.
While the developed world has adopted a doctor-centric healthcare model, whereby a healthcare professional represents a patient’s gateway to patient care, the developing world lacks such resources and is thus more receptive to a patient-centric model. Communication is vital for the healthcare system to function effectively, and mHealth technologies can collate, transfer and analyze medical information, with web-based platforms and mobile apps providing channels of communication between physicians and patients.
The mHealth Alliance is hosted by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), and brings together governments, charities, and software companies to provide mHealth solutions in low and middle-income countries. Projects include the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), which educates low-income expectant mothers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa by distributing health information via mobile phones. Subscribers receive reminders throughout pregnancy and infancy regarding breastfeeding, immunization and local health resources. The program aims to reduce maternal and infant deaths, and has been requested by 35 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia.
mHealth technologies have also proved invaluable for disease surveillance, enabling real-time monitoring of malaria in Botswana, and dengue fever in Mexico. Disease outbreaks can be effectively tracked, as community health workers can instantly relay information to medical centers and health officials. Infectious diseases in developing countries are especially common following natural disasters, and early detection can minimize the risk of epidemics while informing authorities of urgent public healthcare needs.
GBI Research estimate that the mHealth market will reach a value of $60 billion by 2015, if technologies can reach their true potential and provide a superior service to traditional face-to-face healthcare treatment.
NOTES TO EDITORS
*Mobile Health (mHealth) - Enhancing Healthcare and Improving Clinical Outcomes
This report examines how mHealth, which is the facilitation of health-related information through mobile-enabled technologies, has been applied by the pharmaceutical industry in drug development, and by healthcare providers in the developed and emerging economies to improve healthcare services and treatment outcomes.The report is built using data and information sourced from proprietary databases, primary and secondary research and in-house analysis by GBI Research’s team of industry experts.
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