The global mHealth market will grow at a compound annual rate of 41.5 percent in the next five years to reach $10.2 billion by 2018, up from $1.3 billion in 2012, said a recent report from market research firm Transparency Market Research.
Growth in the mHealth market is being driven primarily by the increasing popularity of smartphones and the uptick in chronic diseases, said Pawan Kumar, head of ICT and Semiconductor Practices at Transparency Market Research.
“The introduction of newer and improved mobile health applications in the market is helping the healthcare providers to cater (to a higher) number of patients in less time with significant cost saving,” said Kumar. “Faster development of 3G and 4G networks is also expected to fuel the further growth of the market.”
The remote patient monitoring services segment of the mHealth market is growing the most quickly and accounted for about 63 percent of revenue in 2012.
Remote monitoring of patients can help reduce costs significantly by reducing the amount of time the patient spends in the hospital and by lowering the frequency of follow-up visits to the physician, which, according to Kumar, is especially important due to the “shortage of healthcare workers globally.”
Among biggest challenges that could potentially weaken market growth are data storage and security, said Kumar.
“Multiple device access to healthcare data and applications, on- and off-premises, raises security concerns,” he said. “In the case of mHealth applications, there is a high risk of loss of unprotected confidential data to an unauthenticated user, and physicians are short of time and skills to take care of such security measures.”
Despite the hurdles, Kumar expects the market to continue to trend up.
“We expect that the robust market growth will continue on account of increasing innovation and growing participation of stakeholders,” said Kumar.
“A number of organizations within the provider and mobile technology industries are now sponsoring projects across developing countries like Africa, India and others to explore mHealth opportunities,” he added. “Governments across different countries are playing a vital role in the growth of the mHealth market by initiating policies to support mobile health applications in their respective countries.”