Mobile Health Sector to Reach $23 Billion by 2017

PricewaterhouseCoopers and mobile operator industry association GSMA expect global mobile health revenues to hit $23 billion by 2017, with the biggest markets in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

A new report recently issued by the two entities, Touching lives through mobile health: Assessment of the global market opportunity, projects that European and Asia-Pacific markets will each make up 30% of global mobile health market share, followed by North America (28%), Latin America (7%) and Africa (5%).

Monitoring services—particularly those for aiding chronic disease management and ageing, will constitute about 65%, or $15 billion, of the global medical health market, followed by diagnostic services and healthcare system strengthening services, according to the study. Mobile operators will reap nearly 50% of the growing mobile health market, whereas medical device manufacturers, app developers and healthcare providers will account for the remaining market share.

However, this level of growth depends highly upon global regulators developing effective market authorization requirements that take into account the nature of mobile health products rather than just pigeon-holing these products into regulatory systems designed for more conventional medical devices. PwC and the GSMA acknowledge that regulatory support—as well as acceptance of mobile health devices by healthcare practitioners and consumers—is essential to the realization of the study’s projected growth rates. Although regulators in the US and other highly developed markets have taken initial steps toward developing a more nuanced approach to mobile medical technologies, substantive policies regarding mobile health have yet to fully materialize. Until they do, these study projections should be taken with a healthy grain of salt.

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