mHealth, the next big thing?
4:55 pm October 2, 2009
Here at Temono we are constantly on the lookout for the next exciting trends in mobile. One thing we’ve noticed gathering a head of steam is the idea of mHealth and we fully expect it to take off in a much bigger way than Ed’s brainchild the ‘One Button Phone’ has. As the topic seems to be gaining more and more traction in the news I have been tasked with doing a little research into the area and seeing what it is all about.
First things first, what is mHealth? mHealth is another way of saying mobile health. A sub-section of eHealth, mHealth deals with the use of mobile technologies for a variety of healthcare purposes. Mobile technologies are being used for a range of healthcare purposes. Earlier this year the mHealth Alliance was formed by the UN, Vodafone Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation with the aim maximising the effect and use of mobile health in the developing world. Throughout Africa, and the rest of the developing world mobile technologies are being used to educate the populace and collect information. The Text to Change initiative and the Project Masiluleke in South Africa have simply used SMS to spread awareness of contagious diseases such as TB and HIV. Meanwhile, the EpiSurveyor from DataDyne has made it possible for medical data to be collected and transmitted in rural areas using a mobile phone.
In the developing world mHealth has taken a different shape, most notably the use of mobile technologies for home health monitoring. Companies such as MedApps and Alive Technologies develop products which allow monitoring, management and diagnosis of diseases from the home. Rather than visit the hospital or doctor’s surgery, for routine check-ups of chronic illnesses, this can be done from the home using equipment connected to your mobile phone or a dedicated device which transmits data remotely for healthcare professionals to review.
At the consumer end of the mHealth market there a variety of fitness monitors that utilise mobile technology and even a set of scales. Apple and Nike have the Nike + iPod Sport Kit which wirelessly connects a pedometer in your shoe to your iPod and logs your distance travelled, average speed and calories burned. French company Withings have created a set of scales which use WiFi to update your weight and BMI on their dedicated website or for you to view on you iPhone with their dedicated app. The Apple appstore even has its own dedicated health section.
So why do we think this will be big? For one it has the potential to save lives. From the use of SMS to help educate people of the risks of HIV, to the management of diabetes, mHealth can genuinely improve quality of life. It will save money for healthcare providers. Improving patient compliance for those with chronic diseases will keep people out of hospital and reduce the chance of requiring urgent and expensive medical care. Above all, mHealth is innovative and of genuine use, and I for one am all for something that turns an iPhone into something more than a lightsaber or farting device.
2 Responses to “mHealth, the next big thing?”
David Doherty October 3rd, 2009 at 11:47 am
Penny Danté October 21st, 2009 at 4:09 pm