The traditional model of health care delivery is no longer sustainable. As demand continues to grow due to an increasingly elderly population and the unstoppable growth of chronically ill people, the current economic crisis has imposed a significant reduction in health care spending.

In this context, the provision of health services by using mobile devices, which is known as mobile health or mHealth, has opened new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

mHEALTH

The implementation of mHealth brings benefits to all actors in the system. It helps to reduce physician office visits, resulting in cost savings; improves treatment compliance and adherence; monitors and remotely transmits vital signs of patients; facilitates patient communication with professionals and, in general, provides a greater efficiency in the delivery of care and better control of health, with less consumption of resources.

A few days ago the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) presented in Barcelona the report entitled ‘A socio-economic impact of mHealth. An assessment report for the European Union’, that quantifies in the not inconsiderable figure of 99,000 million the potential annual savings that could be achieved in the European Union in 2017 if mHealth were to be extensively adopted.

However, the realization of these benefits will depend on the extent to which economic, technological, structural or regulatory barriers that may hinder the adoption of mHealth are exceeded. The PwC report notes that in this area the main responsibility lies with regulators and payers, urging them to take measures to encourage the adoption and use of mHealth.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE COLLABORATION

Nevertheless, despite the fact that the public health system would be one of the main beneficiaries of the mHealth adoption, an excessively shortsighted approach may limit its capacity to take advantage of it, leaving it to the private sector the opportunity to pave the way. The main challenge for entrepreneur in these endeavors is to find a suitable business model, as the required investment should basically cover the software development, which usually is not very high.

Although the number of health applications available on the different platforms has already surpassed the figure of 40,000, most of them are often unsuccessful and even never get used. For health apps to be successful it is essential for developers to know and understand the needs and expectations of users. The list of problems awaiting a solution is endless.

If our health care system is the result of both public and private initiatives, in the field of mHealth takes full sense to join efforts in order to create an ecosystem to facilitate, encourage and stimulate entrepreneurship, especially considering the benefits that can be obtained.

4 Years From Now (4YFN)

A real example of this collaboration is ‘4 Years From Now’ (4YFN), an initiative led by the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Foundation, that will take place next February, on the occasion of the World Mobile Congress. This event will gather in Barcelona a thousand entrepreneurs, half of them international and the other local, and seeks to give an opportunity to those who have opted for projects involving technology and mobility.

Are you in? Looking forward to meeting you there.