2014 to See Increased Collaboration Between Healthcare and ICT

This week in Washington, D.C., the mHealth Summit hosts a conference with the intention to address some of the technological issues that must be solved to make progress

News this week from connected health technology advocates calls attention the importance of nurturing synergies between healthcare and Information Communications Technology (ICT) providers worldwide.

Continua Health Alliance today announced that two major communications providers -- China Mobile and Verizon Enterprise Solutions -- have joined the Alliance, adding to a roster of operators in its membership, that includes AT&T, KDDI, Korea Telecom (KT), NTT DOCOMO - Mobile, NTT, Orange, Telefonica, Telus and Vodafone.

 "We are pleased to welcome our newest members to Continua and commend their commitment to personal connected health," said Clint McClellan, Continua Board President and Chairman. "Continua's mobile sector is growing substantially, as companies recognize the importance of our Design Guidelines to facilitate the interoperability and efficient use of smartphones and tablets for connected health."

Continua Design Guidelines support interoperability for mobile platforms and enable simple connectivity for data exchange between consumer devices such as smartphones, M2M modules and tablets, as well as services and systems used in personal connected health.

"The time is right for mobile carriers to embrace plug-and-play design. Healthcare organizations are recognizing that they need access to mobile technologies to effectively and efficiently deliver healthcare," McClellan said.

Earlier in the week, prior to an online roundtable convening industry experts and analysts to discuss the future of digital health, Victor Morrison, SVP, Healthcare Markets for Next IT, said “Healthcare is arguably the most vibrant space in tech innovation today, with the potential to meaningfully impact all of our lives in significant ways.”

“Whether we are talking about the future of intelligent virtual assistants or mobile health tracking or any number of other advancements, technology in the healthcare industry is not simply a matter of better care, but also an operational imperative.”

Results of a broad survey Intel Corporation recently commissioned echo this sentiment, and suggest people generally are optimistic that the integration of ICT into healthcare is good.

The “Intel Healthcare Innovation Barometer” surveyed 12,000 adults from Brazil, China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and the United States and found that more than 80 percent of respondents are optimistic about healthcare in terms of innovation and technology, including more than half who believe the traditional hospital will become obsolete in the future.

Eric Dishman, Intel fellow and general manager of the company’s Health and Life Sciences Group, said, “Most people appear to embrace a future of healthcare that allows them to get care outside hospital walls.” In spite of the perception that privacy and security concerns could limit the adoption of telehealth and mobile health services, the survey revealed 84 percent of people globally would anonymously share their personal health information, such as lab results, if it could lower medication costs or overall cost to the healthcare system.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed interoperability-related standards in its guidance to the healthcare industry, designed to help healthcare product vendors and integrators create interoperable devices and systems for disease management, health and fitness and independent living.

This week in Washington, D.C., the mHealth Summit hosts a conference with the intention to address some of the technological issues that must be solved to make progress, including one session of the title “Driving Medical Interoperability to Improve Care and Lower Costs.“

The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), which signed a collaborative agreement with Continua Health Alliance recently, is at the summit this week to advocate governmental action and industry cooperation to develop more standards. These standards proponents cite the inability of multi-vendor medical devices to exchange information across primarily proprietary interfaces as a prime culprit in the inefficiencies and waste in healthcare worldwide.

In the United States, standards-based interoperability among medical devices “could be a source of more than $30 billion a year in savings and improve patient care and safety,” according to the West Health Institute’s March 2013 analysis that was released at a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

As regulators evaluate standardization in the healthcare mobile apps market, a new report sheds some light on the state of the emerging industry. "Mobile Health Apps & Solutions Market - Global Trends & Forecast to 2018" analyzes and studies the major market drivers, restraints, and opportunities worldwide.

The report estimates the mobile healthcare market (connected medical devices, healthcare applications, and related mobile technology) was $6.336 million in 2013 and is poised to reach $20.683 million by 2018 at a CAGR of 26.7%.

Connected devices dominate the current market with around 85% of the total revenue contribution. The report also says that cardiac monitoring and fitness tracking are the most prominent uses of mobile-enabled connected healthcare devices.

According to the report, free apps constitute almost 90% of healthcare downloads, which prevents the rise of revenue with their adoption. Rising popularity may increase the download price of device-independent healthcare apps, the report says, suggesting the revenue contribution to the mobile health market is expected to be more significant.

The report finds that North America, Japan, China, and the U.K. have become the greatest consumers of mobile health devices and apps over the last decade, with South Africa and Brazil emerging more recently.