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mHealth could cut EU's chronic disease costs

Mobile operators association says compliance and monitoring could be improve through technology

mHealth mobile phoneThe cost of treating chronic diseases in the EU could be cut by 30 to 35 per cent by 2017 if mHealth technology is used to its full potential, according to a new report.

Global mobile operators' association the GSMA says the savings would come from better compliance with treatment regimes and efficiencies from remote patient monitoring.

Overall the GSMA says mhealth could reduce healthcare costs across the EU by €100bn by 2017 and even add €93bn in GDP.

The report says that, of the 39.9 million patients in the EU who are at high risk of developing chronic diseases, mHealth technology could help 11.4 million to better manage their lifestyles. This vast majority of these patients (8.4 million) have type 2 diabetes, with the rest suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease.

Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, said: “The growing prevalence of chronic diseases, the relatively high cost of healthcare and an ageing population means many countries in the EU are experiencing a healthcare resource crisis that mobile technology can help relieve

“Better access to healthcare services and the cost efficiencies driven by mHealth will help EU economies deliver sustainable and effective healthcare systems. However, much more needs to be done by regulators and governments within the EU to incentivise, encourage and drive the adoption of mHealth for the benefit of all the region's citizens.”

The European Commission does have mHealth in its sights as part of its focus on eHealth, but the mHealth (Mobile Health) Green Paper it plans to issue by 2014 to address quality and transparency issues is unlikely to move fast enough for mobile operators.

Moreover, the GSMA's mHealth report cites multiple barriers – regulatory, economic, structural and technological – that prevent mHealth from being adopted commercially and achieving scale.

The association says that unless these can be removed the adoption of mHealth could be limited to about 10 per cent of its potential in 2017.

The GSMA wants to see: mHealth integrated within national healthcare strategies across the EU and policies put in place to encourage innovative mHealth solutions and provide clarity on certification and routes to market.

It also called for incentives for healthcare providers and patients to adopt mHealth solutions and education on mHealth for healthcare professionals, patients and consumers.

10th June 2013

From: Healthcare

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