Healthcare is one of the main sectors where the adoption of mobile technologies and M2M communications can have a strong impact both on improving current operations and enabling new services. Reducing the number of hospital visits through remote patient monitoring, keeping track of medication intake, reducing the time to diagnosis, or sustaining healthy lifestyles are just a few of the potential benefits.
These, and other aspects, were discussed during the Mobile Health Summit; a half-day seminar here in Stockholm organized my Mobile Business in collaboration with TeliaSonera Global M2M Services. The seminar had an interesting format, based on short presentations of use cases, with emphasis on problem, solution and results.
The focus was on service design rather than technology design and the majority of participants agreed on the fact that the main challenges are not technological. Surprising (or maybe not) was that most solutions were essentially mobile apps, with a few exceptions. Without going into details, these apps targeted: healthcare in developing countries (more info here and here), shortening the time to diagnosis (more info here) psychotherapy (more info here), wellness and, healthcare education through mobile games.
An interesting work-in-progress project was presented, that gives people living in Sweden the ability to view and manage their healthcare records and allows also third-party providers to use this data (through open API’s, strict security measures and a certification process) in their applications (more info here).
The obvious question that can be brought up, especially at an event partly hosted by TeliaSonera, is how mobile operators fit in the picture? In the context discussed here, the short answer is: connectivity. However, looking beyond connectivity and apps, there is a trend for mobile operators to become service providers themselves, especially in M2M. For example, Vodafone, Orange and AT&T are some of the operators that have programs dedicated specially to eHelathcare, as part of their M2M offers.
The panel discussion at the end of the seminar gave some insight on drivers and barriers in eHealthcare. The key word here was “regulations”, which seems to be the main reason that hinders development in this sector, especially in Europe. Adding to this, large scale solutions are bounded by different medical cultures in each country, which also means that a business model created for one market has little chance of being efficient in another. Currently, opportunities can be found in service design, as said earlier, with a target on less regulated areas of the healthcare sector.