EU economy breaks ground via mHealth

EU economic landscape expected to break new ground via mHealth

New research by GSMA concludes that mHealth could save almost €100 billion in healthcare costs in the EU by 2017 as well as add €93 billion in GDP.

The GSMA  – Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association – is composed of 800 of the world's mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile market, including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organizations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities.

Another report published in January 2013 by market research firm Transparency Market Research showed the global mHealth market would grow at a compound annual rate of 41.5 percent in the next five years to reach $10.2 billion by 2018, up from $1.3 billion in 2012.

The GSMA report developed in partnership with PwC, indicated that, by using mHealth solutions to their full potential, by 2017 healthcare systems in the EU could:

Recognize huge cost savings

  • Lower the total annual per capita EU healthcare spend for patients benefitting from mHealth solutions by 18 percent, or €537
  • Reduce care costs for chronic conditions by 30 to 35 per cent through improved treatment compliance and remote patient monitoring

Improve lifestyles

  • Help 185 million patients lead healthier lives and gain a combined 158,000 extra years of life
  • Empower almost 23 million people that either have a chronic disease or are at risk of developing one to improve their condition through preventive measures and lifestyle improvements
  • Provide 9.4 million people at risk of developing chronic diseases with access to earlier diagnosis, and enable 11 million chronic patients and nine million elderly patients to benefit from remote treatment and monitoring

Enhance resource efficiency

  • Accommodate the treatment of an additional 24.5 million patients without requiring more doctors or new healthcare facilities
  • Address the shortage of doctors across the EU by saving a combined 42 million doctor working days in 2017, extending treatment to an additional 126 million patients
  • Help more than 18 million patients suffering from chronic diseases or at risk of developing them to stay healthier and improve their productivity, contributing a further €5,139 each (€93 billion in total) to EU GDP

"The growing prevalence of chronic diseases, the relatively high cost of healthcare and an aging population means many countries in the EU are experiencing a healthcare resource crisis that mobile technology can help relieve," Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer, GSMA, said in a news release. "Better access to healthcare services and the cost efficiencies driven by mHealth will help EU economies deliver sustainable and effective healthcare systems. However, much more needs to be done by regulators and governments within the EU to incentivise, encourage and drive the adoption of mHealth for the benefit of all the region's citizens."

Overcoming barriers to adoption

  • Unless the multiple barriers – regulatory, economic, structural and technological – that prevent mHealth from being adopted commercially and achieving scale are removed, the adoption of mHealth could be limited to about 10 per cent of its potential in 2017. This will restrict the realization of benefits to 5 percent of their potential. The impact means:
  • Healthcare savings across the EU would be limited to €6.6 billion, instead of the almost €100 billion predicted in 2017
  • Only €6.5 billion will be added to EU GDP by 2017, compared to the potential €93 billion
  • Only 11.2 million patients of the potential 185 million would benefit from mHealth

The key to harnessing the potential of mHealth lies with governments, regulators and payers, such as insurers, creating the right environment for growth and paving the way for its adoption, according to GSMA. Key actions that could help drive this adoption include:

  • Integration of mHealth within the nationwide healthcare strategies of EU countries to align the development of mHealth services with country-specific healthcare priorities
  • Creation of policies and frameworks that encourage deployment of innovative mHealth solutions and provide clarity on certification and routes to market, while ensuring trust, quality and end-user safety.
  • Creation of innovative and sustainable incentives that encourage both healthcare providers and patients to adopt mHealth solutions
  • Raising awareness and providing education on mHealth for healthcare professionals, patients and consumers.