Healthcare has come a long way, evolving through centuries of development and the addition of methodologies of cure and care. In fact, the whole approach to medical care and diagnostics has changed - adopting new medicines, care technology, and curing techniques. Surgery, deployment of medicine, and methods to analyze disease symptoms have intensified; requiring healthcare to be more specific and precise.
Research and development in the medical sector has been gaining new dimensions through frequent discoveries and innovations. The IT revolution proffered an organic transformation to every industry and business vertical; in the same way that it transformed our lives. The role of Information Technology in medical care, diagnostics and medicine has elevated healthcare to a completely new level. Lately, mobile devices, or rather mobile apps, have changed the dynamics of healthcare management. In a country like India, where IT is a benchmarked niche, the breakthrough of mobile devices in the healthcare sector is a conspicuous one.
A report on mHealth by Mobile Health Economic in 2014, estimated that, globally, there were 100,000 apps in the mHealth sector for both Android and iOS platforms. According to the study, the health and fitness mobile app market was 4 Billion USD in 2014, and by 2017, it is poised to grow to 26 Billion USD. The thrust of the sector was perceived such that Google declared 2014 as the year of m Health. The disruption was apparent - with exponentially growing users of health and fitness applications. A research survey by Flurry Analytics demonstrated the growth of this specific market. From December, 2013 to June, 2014 there was a 62 per cent rise in usage of health and fitness apps, while other sub groups grew by only 33 percent. The report also indicated that females comprise of 62 per cent of the users of fitness apps and wearable devices, leaving the balance 38 per cent to males.
Health and fitness apps have revolutionized the diagnostic market in India. The number of health apps is increasing rapidly, creating a commensurate mHealth sector in the country. The joint report by PwC and Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on the Indian m-Health market in 2014 placed India second among developing countries on maturity for m Health adoption. The market size of mobile healthcare in India is projected to reach Rs. 3000 crores by 2017. More than 60 per cent of Indian doctors and healthcare players have adopted mobile technology in Healthcare. The report sheds light on a number of facets of the Indian m Health market. 60 per cent of the consumers in India predicted that within the next three years, mobile technology would improve the convenience, cost and quality of healthcare.
Consumers using health and fitness apps are found out to have reduced their visits to doctors and physicians. Studies have indicated a number of reasons for the growing usage of mobile technology. Among other reasons, the convenience offered by mobile technology to access doctors and health specialists is the prime. The other reasons are reduction of healthcare cost and increasing control over their health. Sooner or later, users and patients will prefer health-apps which are comprehensive; spanning diagnostics/lab-tests to consultation, appointments with doctors to medication prescriptions, care-management, and eventually, remote-monitoring. This will entail device-integration to health apps; and not many of the apps in the market might be able to scale the last-mile in overall health management. With healthcare-apps becoming popular amongst the medical community, 64 per cent of the doctors and practitioners reported that mHealth would offer exciting possibilities in healthcare.
The possibilities offered by mobile technology in healthcare are immense. Innovative applications have made healthcare affordable and easily accessible. On the other hand, an array of imperative aspects in the medical system has been impacted positively. For instance, mobile technology now offers exclusive platforms for collaborative treatment and care coordination, aiding both patients and doctors. Referrals, pharmacy purchases, and even consultations are being done through generic changes that are being facilitated by mobile devices. However, in a country like India, the gap between demand and supply has always been a gargantuan one for services such as healthcare. Hence, the prospects of mHealth has the possibility of developing even better outcomes, in a bid to bridge the gap through more substantial and insightful improvements in the sector.
Mathivanan Selvara is an healthcare-specialist and COO of SmartRx driving customer-acquisition, marketing and strategy. He has over two-decades of biz-dev, GTM and Team-building expereince in Healthcare & IT-solution verticals across India, Singapore, S.E Asia & ME.The company provides health solutions to Hospitals, doctors and corporates and enables them to deliver services such as post-discharge care, chronic care management and remote monitoring programs through mobile apps. They also offer real-time audio video interaction with health specialists.