Mobile Data Services in Health Care to Grow to $7.7B by 2014, Report Says

ABI Research forecasts cellular data services for health care to grow to $7.7 billion worldwide by 2014. Manufacturing and retail also are expected to command a large share of mobile data services revenues.

ABI Research has released its quarterly update predicting rapid deployment of mobile data services in health care worldwide over the next four years.

The company predicts that sales of data services through cellular networks for health care will increase to $7.7 billion worldwide in the next four years.

Access revenues from mobile data services, mobile messaging-including SMS (Short Message Service) texting and mobile e-mail-and productivity apps will lead health care to just above 10 percent share of worldwide mobile data revenue by 2014, Dan Shey, enterprise practice director for ABI Research, told eWEEK.

"Health care professionals now have apps on their devices that allow access to such things as an office dashboard for schedules, patient data, including radiograph information, and even individual applications like a medication reference app," Shey said.

Health care companies are looking to lower costs by expanding their digitization and implementing patient electronic medical records.

"Digitizing health care is one path toward this goal, which involves everything from scanning medication bar codes to simply accessing data on a media tablet instead of using a clipboard with the inherent issue of transcription errors going from clipboard to PC," Shey said.

ABI also predicted that by 2014, manufacturing and retail will take double-digit shares of worldwide mobile data revenue at about 14 and 12 percent, respectively.

Health care, retail and manufacturing combined will reach $27 billion by 2014, the company predicted. In addition to the $7.7 billion growth for health care, ABI expects manufacturing to grow to $10 billion and retail to $8.7 billion by that year.

More medical professionals are using mobile devices, yet they struggle to maintain cellular reception, according to a July 23 Spyglass Consulting group study. Although 94 percent of physicians surveyed were using smartphones, 78 percent reported problems with timely smartphone connectivity.

The ABI report focused on cellular networks and didn't factor in WiFi connectivity.

On June 22, ABI reported that WiFi use in the health care industry had increased by more than 60 percent during the past year in WLAN and WiFi RTLS (Real-Time Location System) deployments.

Although many mobile devices are WiFi-enabled, health care professionals rely on cellular access when they're outside WiFi coverage areas.