Pilot projects show success for mobile technology in health care, according to a new report The Boston Consulting Group and Telenor presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
As users are
expected to have 7.4 billion mobile subscriptions by 2015, mobile technology is
proving it can bring tangible improvement in health care, according to a new
report by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Telenor Group, a mobile operator based in Norway.
The companies presented the results of the survey on Feb. 28 at the Mobile World Congress
in Barcelona, Spain.
For the study,
"Socio-Economic Impact of mHealth," researchers examined the potential of
mobile health projects in 12 countries, including Thailand, India and Norway.
mobile health infrastructureincluding wireless capacity and even the capabilities
of simple feature phonesis in place to boost the quality of care and to lower
health system costs, the study said.
is not the bottleneck," Eugene Goh, a principal at BCG, told eWEEK.
"The challenge is aligning
multiple stakeholders and incentives in each country."
system needs to be overhauled to allow doctors to get paid for sending text
messages or email, Goh said, adding, "Incentives in the health care
profession are designed for the premobile era."
In the United
States, the Obama administration has proposed that doctors group themselves
into accountable care organizations (ACOs)
and be paid
based on patient outcomes rather than visits.
Areas in which
mobile apps can improve health care include patient monitoring and compliance,
disease prevention, public wellness, remote data access and health
surveillance, according to the report.
advanced medical appliances can connect with smart devices. In one case, the HP TouchPad enables doctors to control MRI scanners.
On Feb. 22,
AirStrip launched its new Patient Monitoring application to display patients'
vital data, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and blood
pressure, on the Apple iPhone or iPad. Mobile devices can also connect to
diabetes equipment such as glucometers to transmit blood sugar readings to
technology also can reduce the costs of elder care by 25 percent, according to
BCG. The Center
for Technology and Aging
is working to help older people adopt
technology and maintain independence.
spearheading several projects to boost the role of mobile technology in health
care. In Norway, the company has initiated an assisted-living project involving
mobile alarm systems that allow seniors to remain in their homes longer. In one
project, public health officials are using mobile text-messaging services to
conduct epidemic surveillance in Thailand.
Telenor pilot brings telehealth services to rural areas in India.
existence of telehealth, doctors can now reach twice as many rural patients as
in the past, BCG reported. In the United States, companies such as American
Well and Consult A Doctor
offer telehealth services.
mobile health projects grow worldwide, many struggle to reach scale, according
to Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president and CEO of Telenor.
regulatory actions and ecosystem collaboration are required to create the
necessary scale," Baksaas said in a statement. "We need to commit to
common standards, increase access to mobile services and document the impact of
projects become a sustainable business model that can serve an entire country,
said BCG's Goh. Standardization of mobile platforms, as with the Apple iOS or
Google Android, can bring additional mobile health innovation, he added.
The Apple iOS
is one standard platform that has caught on in health care. In its May 2011
report "Taking the Pulse U.S. 11.0," Manhattan Research revealed that
75 percent of doctors in the United States owned an Apple
such as the iPhone or iPad as of the first quarter of 2011.
The BCG report
cites maternal and child health as areas in which mobile technology can be
especially helpful. Short Message Service (SMS) tools can provide aid to
pregnant mothers, said Goh.
example is the app Text4Baby
a U.S. text-messaging service that provides text-length health information to
women about pregnancy and infant care. Meanwhile, radiologists can connect
ultrasound equipment to mobile devices and send the data to other doctors using
SMS or email for a diagnosis or second opinion.
monitoring is a growing trend in mobile health, and Qualcomm is one company
taking an active role in this area. In December, it launched 2net
, a cloud platform that receives
patient biometric data from mobile devices.
in Norway and Denmark diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), remote monitoring through mobile technology has helped reduce nights in
the hospital and re-admissions by 50 to 60 percent, said Goh.