PwC India had recently launched a report titled ‘Touching Lives through Mobile Health: Assessment of the Global Market Opportunity’. According to this report, conducted by PwC for the GSMA, mobile technology will play a significant role in the provision of healthcare services globally. It also predicts that the growth of the mHealth market will lead to a revenue opportunity worth Rs 3000 crores (US$0.6 billion) for India and US$23 billion for the world by 2017. The report also examines the key challenges the healthcare industry is facing worldwide and the opportunity which mobile technology provides in overcoming these challenges.
India has witnessed significant activity in the mobile health space with the launch of several different services, however the majority of initiatives are focused on spreading prevention and awareness messages. According to the report, the Mobile Health market opportunity for India will constitute 8% of the total Asia-Pacific opportunity in 2017.
Commenting on the findings of the report Mohammad Chowdhury, Telecoms Industry Leader, PwC India said, “Our estimates suggest that in spite of the advancements in medical technologies and a general increase in income levels, healthcare continues to pose challenges of affordability, complexity and access across the whole world. By contrast, mobile access is almost ubiquitous. With the increasing penetration of smart phones, innovative ‘connected devices’, and the proliferation of Mobile Broadband networks and services worldwide, the mobile device will play a far greater role in healthcare in both developed and developing countries in the future.”
To enable this opportunity, governments, regulators and healthcare providers need to work with mobile operators and organisations in the broader mHealth ecosystem, including device vendors and content and application players, to support the roll-out and adoption of new mHealth services.
PwC sees four scaling factors as being critical to seeing m-health make a significant impact on society, as follows:
Government: Only when governments worldwide embrace constructive policy agendas for mHealth will the market start to achieve its potential and scale rapidly. Governments should take steps to adopt the concept of mHealth as an effective way to improve access to and affordability of healthcare. This includes encouraging the use of mHealth services by public healthcare providers and incentivising private providers to deliver mHealth services.
Regulatory: Regulators need to proactively address the issues that currently limit the growth of mHealth services, certification, interoperability and standardisation.
Healthcare industry: Clear benefit studies from key players in the mHealth ecosystem, as well as government support, are vital to driving acceptance in the medical profession.
User adoption: Widespread user adoption will help drive the exponential growth and market opportunity for mHealth. This will be supported by recommendations from medical professionals, overall service affordability and widespread availability of content and devices.
“While the opportunity for mHealth services in India as well as globally is huge, for it to fall into place and become an effective tool of social inclusion the government and the entire healthcare ecosystem will have to work together even as they compete on other fronts so that the benefits percolate to the segment which most requires it. Favourable government policies and regulatory regimes will be crucial for scaling up mobile health,” stated Siddharth Vishwanath, Executive Director, PwC India.