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Taking mHealth investing into the future

To be successful, mHealth needs to be able to drive consumer behavior

If mHealth entrepreneurs and investors want to take the burgeoning industry to the next level, they’re going to have to change their focus, said experts kicking off the 2013 mHealth Summit.

About $4 billion has been invested in the mHealth space over the past few years, and investment is still trending upward, Jack Young, director of Qualcomm Venture's Qualcomm Life Fund, told a packed room at the Venture+ Forum on Sunday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center outside Washington D.C. However, no amount of investment will be enough for mHealth to be successful without using mHealth to drive behavior change that affects meaningful outcomes.

[See also: Trends in mHealth]

Investors, clinicians and venture capitalists with mHealth stakes need to move beyond solutions that mobilize data and focus instead on organizing that data into insights, he said.

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Insights that can be used to convince consumers that good healthcare begins with good health, said Amita Shukla, who spent eight years in the venture capital business before launching her own mHealth company, Vitamita. "All of this is meaningless unless we can impact human behavior," said Shukla.

That's what many, if not all, of the 10 companies chosen to present at the Venture+ Forum are targeting. The MediSafe Project, for example, creates an online portal that allows pharmaceutical companies and providers to "engage, analyze and act" on patient medication compliance.

"I think that physicians are looking for solutions," said company co-founder Omri "Bob" Shor, who's piloted the solution in his native Israel and Europe and is now looking for pilot sites in the United States.

[See also: Venture funding and mHealth]

In conversations around the room during Sunday's forum, those seeking funding and those looking to provide it offered the same take on the industry: The greatest mHealth invention in the world won't succeed unless it's accepted by clinicians and consumers. To both groups, it has to be unobtrusive – fitting into workflows and daily lifestyles – and it has to deliver value.

"Know your audience," one investor said to an aspiring entrepreneur who was working the room before the forum began. Forget about who's going to pay for it, he said. Find who's going to use it, determine why they should be using it, and then convince them to use it.

This story is based on a report from mHealthNews.com.