mHealth World Congress - Analyst Perspective

by Jennifer Kent | Jul. 31, 2012

Written by: Jennifer Kent, Research Analyst, Parks Associates

I had the pleasure of attending the 4thAnnual mHealth World Congress in Boston last week, and spoke on a panel of analysts concerning consumer uptake of mHealth applications and solutions. With the Supreme Court giving the Affordable Care Act the all-clear, companies in this area are forging ahead with new initiatives to increase the quality of care while cutting costs; many of these initiatives leverage mobile technology to enable consumers to better care for themselves and stay out of hospitals and other care settings as much as possible.  The speaker line-up included care providers, hospital administrators, insurers, venture capitalists, app developers, and medical device manufacturers among others. From these speakers’ presentations, along with informal conversations with conference attendees, I came away with a few great insights about the emerging mHealth market.

  • Healthcare in the reform era is all about accountability, for care providers and for consumers. If pay for performance, rather than fee for service, is going to work, doctors and patients both need report cards.  The most effective consumer-facing solutions will incorporate incentives for use, via gamification principles for instance, or consequences for inaction.
  •  Monetizing mobile app/solutions: except for a small cluster of fitness applications, most mHealth solution providers will not be profitable under a consumer-pays model; mHealth solution developers need to build a case for reimbursement by payers. They can do so by gaining FDA approval and investing in clinical trials.
  • Physicians are finally getting on board: regulatory incentives are pushing doctors past their resistance to technology; also, medical practitioners’ use of mobile devices in their personal lives is seeping back into the workplace. Notably, some start-ups are having success using physician advocates as the “in” to a trial within a health system, rather than pitching to executives.
  • mHealth app developers should aim to distribute their apps through multiple channels , including app stores native to mobile devices, health insurer’s portals, employer/enterprise app stores, and mHealth-specific app stores, like Happtique.

Finally, industry players generally agreed that the tipping point in mHealth may be only 5 years away. Within that time frame, wireless connectivity for medical devices will be ubiquitous, new health models will have had time to mature, EHRs will be widely used, and consumers will have access to their own health data, all of which will enable self-care and continue to drive the mobile health market.

Next: CES: Mobile Health – Monitoring and Tracking Solutions
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