Information Technology has had an undeniably massive impact on improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Many industries have adopted it wholeheartedly to maintain their current market position or to improve it. Healthcare is no exception to this change. Many countries worldwide use Information Technology to promote health information and system outcome. Simultaneously, the mobile phone boom has benefited even the most technologically challenged among us. Mobile phones are less than four decades old but almost the entire world’s population already owns one. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that mobile phones are almost a human organ akin to an arm or leg now!
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The confluence of medical care and mobile telephony is what led to the emergence of the mobile health monitoring market. Devices like smartphones and PDA’s are equipped with 4G network support, Wireless LAN and Bluetooth networks which enable them to be used in the healthcare industry. The mobile health monitoring market is a subset of e-Health, i.e. the use of ICT for health services or assistance. Mobile health monitoring apps use mobiles to collect community health data, deliver healthcare information to medical professionals and patients, monitor a patient’s vitals in real-time and also provide direct personal care. (Through mobile telemedicine)
Ensuring greater medical care to all is one of the biggest mobile health monitoring market drivers. It is well known that rural areas of both developing and developed countries have woefully fewer hospitals or access to medical attention as compared to their urban counterparts. Mobile health monitoring can be very effective for people living in remote areas without access to any other form of healthcare assistance. Even a simple mobile phone can become a powerful lifesaving tool. Text messaging and phone calls can be used to deliver quick, real-time medical information of a patient in a remote location. Smartphones supported by high-speed data networks can do much more by monitoring heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and all other modern day ailments. It is estimated that half a billion people used healthcare applications last year and smartphones and tablets are considered the second most important technological invention in medicine after the stethoscope.
A second driver of the mobile health monitoring market is the increasing importance given to healthcare in the modern era. A stressful, sedentary lifestyle has led to rising cases of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cardiac arrest. People have begun to focus on their own health and fitness a great deal more now than they did in the past. Mobile health monitoring allows patients to take an active role in their own health such as managing medical appointments, updating prescriptions, accessing their medical records and taking their medication as and when required. Physicians can use them not only to access reference material, training content and medical journals but also for patient imaging, monitoring and bedside care.
The main Mobile Health Monitoring Market Restraint is security and privacy concerns of both patients and doctors. Mobile phones contain private and personal patient information which can have devastating consequences if leaked. With all the reports of online data compromise, older patients might be extremely hesitant in adopting this technology. The onus of protecting medical data is on healthcare providers and they must ensure that they act in compliance with the law of the land.
The second challenge, especially in developing countries, is the lack of regulation in the mobile health monitoring market. These countries very rarely have data protection or privacy laws which makes medical records there ripe for third party abuse.
The largest mobile health monitoring market at present is the U.S. on account of an advanced healthcare infrastructure, government support, an ageing population and almost cent percent smartphone penetration. However, China, India, and Japan are expected to drive the mobile health monitoring market in the future due to rapid smartphone adoption and greater focus on the domestic healthcare infrastructure.
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The mobile health monitoring market is highly fragmented and no single player dominates. Companies making glucose monitors are Sanofi LLC, Medisana AG and iHealth Labs, Inc. Blood pressure monitors are made by Qardio and Withings, Inc, Nonin Medical, Inc. and Masimo Corporation while cardiac monitors are manufactured by AliverCor Inc. and iMonSys Ltd.
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