An mHealth revolution?Follow @pwc_ukgov
By Sunil Patel, Partner
In the UK, interest in mHealth, among patients, carers, commissioners and healthcare providers, has never been greater. The use of ‘apps’ and innovative technology in our everyday lives is now having a knock-on effect on how, potentially, people could use mobile devices including mobile phones and other specialised medical mobile devices, to communicate and gather information on their care.
The latest Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report, commissioned by PwC, Emerging mHealth: Paths for growth, examines the current state and potential of mHealth in ten countries across developed and emerging markets (including the UK), the ongoing barriers to its adoption and the implications for companies in the field.
Patients, payers, service providers and suppliers to the health and social care service were surveyed, and results show that they increasingly see mHealth as an inevitable and intrinsic part of the NHS care going forward. The key plus points are: convenient access to providers, greater control over their own health and wellbeing, and information access. See here for our executive summary of the findings for the UK.
For its full potential to be realised and to speed up adoption, mHealth solutions must embrace the following six principles:
- Interoperability – with mobile devices such that patients and clinicians can access and share information via mHealth with other applications, such as electronic health records and existing healthcare plans
- Integration – into existing pathways of care
- Intelligence – used to realise productivity gains across the pathways of care
- Socialisation – the sharing of information across a broad community to provide support, coaching and other forms of assistance
- Engagement – of patients and feedback provided to those taking on mHealth, to encourage new behaviours and sustain improvements in costs, quality and access
- Outcomes – the return on investment for patients and care providers if and when they embrace mHealth.
The Department of Health has developed and promoted standards for interoperability, and the recently published Health and Care Information Strategy ‘The Power of Information’ promotes technologies and approaches to facilitate the sharing of information with patients, and within and across organisational boundaries. It does so by encouraging the use of technologies such as clinical and patient portals, which allow patients and clinicians to integrate mHealth technologies.
However, putting this infrastructure in place, and then simply expecting widespread usage of mHealth technologies by patients and clinicians won’t be enough. The principles above must be addressed for mHealth to be widely adopted, and for its benefits to be realised.