Will mHealth change healthcare any time soon?
There are some compelling indicators about the value of using mHealth applications (those based on mobile technologies) for healthcare:
- 17,000 mHealth applications are already available
- 300 million people in the US and EU have at least one chronic disease; it’s estimated that 25% of patients would benefit from wireless home monitoring solutions, and another 50% of patients would benefit from handset integration of existing medical devices (mHealth and Home Monitoring, Berg Insight, 2009)
- Chronic diseases cost more than $50 billion in lost productivity in Canada in a given year
- A single connected medical device (CMD) saves 4–36 minutes of caregiver time daily, while preventing up to 24 data errors per day. (Quantifying the Business Value of Medical Device Connectivity, Black Box SME, 2011)
Nevertheless, mHealth runs the risk of not realizing its full potential and becoming just another type of “technology” that drains the public coffers if it is not integrated properly into the healthcare system. All participants, from large industry players like Qualcomm, to government think-tanks like mHealth Alliance, seem to agree on this point: integration is the key missing ingredient.
There is ample evidence that individual mHealth solutions definitely improve clinical outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. One obvious benefit of an mHealth solution is its ability to provide continuous monitoring, lending insight into lifestyle habits and dynamic physiological changes. This kind of data cannot be collected through occasional clinical assessments and measurements. However, these measurements are meaningless if they don’t inform a clinical decision – either a change in prescription or a new treatment.
So, who is reading these mHealth measurements and drawing “billable” insights to deliver better medicine? In Canada, payments to physicians constitute approximately 20% of provincial health care budgets. How would this change when you add mHealth technologies to the mix?
As people do more things on more devices, every keystroke will contribute to the mountains of information piling up in data warehouses. Does all of this data represent a treasure trove or a liability for the healthcare system?
Creators of successful mHealth solutions understand how the healthcare market works, how it is funded and regulated, and how buying decisions are made. They are well versed in the details of launching any new healthcare product.
Take Sensory Technologies, for example, a company that produces a classic example of disruptive innovation as applied to healthcare. Their mobile software system connects the primary caregiver working at the patient’s bedside with the greater care team (doctors, nurses, therapists, family members, etc.) in real time, providing access to centralized data, which has never been possible in a traditional home care environment.
Sensory Technologies’ path is typical of health IT startups: slogging it out for over two years, carefully identifying unmet needs and capturing the operational processes of home healthcare providers, and finally, delivering a pilot. Their evidence was so positive that Ontario healthcare institutions are ready to embrace the solution. With an investment from the Ontario government and strategic partners, Sensory Technologies is poised to expand its services in Canada and is also in talks with large US homecare players.
Patrck Blanshard, president of Sensory Technologies, is a master of the fine art of converting an army of giants to friends and collaborators.
How can we replicate this company’s success? Can we create a “neutral place” where caregivers/innovators can use the best of the lean startup methodology to create prototypes, relying on user feedback to evolve products and bring them to our healthcare market quickly?
Stay tuned for future announcements about the rapidly evolving world of healthcare IT.
Veronika Litinski provides advisory services to entrepreneurs and high growth companies, with a special focus on life sciences markets, specializing in corporate finance and business development. See more…