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Study: mHealth Embraced by Emerging Economies

January 18, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The huge disparity in healthcare provisions across the globe has fueled the uptake of mobile technologies, particularly in remote and underserved communities, states a recent report by market researcher GBI Research.

The new report studies the growing role of mobile health, or mHealth, in developing countries, as mobile-enabled technologies such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets are facilitating the care of populations often in poverty.

Each year, more than $4 trillion is spent on healthcare, but only approximately 10 percent of this is spent in developing economies, even though they account for more than four-fifths of the global population and have the highest demands for healthcare. However, advances in mobile technologies and the expansion of telecommunication networks are opening doors for healthcare providers. Wireless mobile signals now cover over 85 percent of the world’s population, and the penetration of mobile phone networks often surpasses other infrastructure such as paved roads and electricity in many low- and middle-income countries, reaching rural and fragmented communities that traditional healthcare facilities cannot easily serve.

While the developed world has adopted a doctor-centric healthcare model, whereby a healthcare professional represents a patient’s gateway to patient care, the developing world lacks such resources and is thus more receptive to a patient-centric model. Communication is vital for the healthcare system to function effectively, and mHealth technologies can collate, transfer and analyze medical information, with web-based platforms and mobile apps providing channels of communication between physicians and patients. GBI Research estimates that the mHealth market will reach a value of $60 billion by 2015, if technologies can reach their true potential and provide a superior service to traditional face-to-face healthcare treatment.

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