John C. Tanner
Mobile has a major role to play in healthcare in both emerging and developed markets, but operators have to get more involved and let users know it exists, according to a panel of experts.
Lisa Mitnick, executive director of Accenture’s Mobility Practice, cited a recent Accenture survey of mobile users in developed markets, which found that many see value in using mobile phones for mHealth apps, but few were aware that mHealth devices already existed.
Part of the reason had to do with the lack of large-scale rollouts of mHealth apps and devices – which itself is partly the product of a lack of interoperability or standards and concerns over the nature of the business model. But a key issue is simply getting the word out, Mitnick said during an mHealth panel at Mobile World Congress.
“The market needs education,” she said. “One result we found is that people generally do not correlate mHealth with lower healthcare costs. They don’t get it, so it’s very important to make that clear.”
The panel also offered a stark contract between the needs of people in developed markets – where the main issue is cost rather than availability – and emerging markets where the main problem is access to healthcare of any kind.
GrameenPhone CEO Kazi Islam offered some stark statistics from Bangladesh: 380 out of 1,000 women die of birth complications every year. Most give birth at home and only 12% get help from doctors. And the infant mortality rate is 5.28%. These figures are typical of many emerging markets, he added.