The number of individuals using mHealth information services will exceed 157 million users by 2020, more than tripling the 50 million for last year, according to a new study by Juniper Research.
The research, titled “Worldwide Digital Health: Developed and Emerging Market Opportunities 2016-2020,” forecasts that the adoption of mHealth information services will significantly increase as service providers roll out initiatives to tackle issues such as infant mortality and infectious diseases.
One of these initiatives, MOTECH Foundation, aims to implement preventative healthcare by educating the population on issues such as sexual health and pregnancy. Juniper found that limited access to connected devices and low literacy rates had resulted in many mHealth services being offered through contact centres.
Also, the research identified several organizations that have adopted a crowdsourcing approach to develop solutions to address the challenges of engaging with and delivering information to end users. Unicef’s Wearables for Good competition was pointed as a prime example — it resulted in Khushi Baby, a wearable device containing an individual’s health information.
Another game-changer could be the use of open source platforms such as Mobile Medic that could help emerging markets over the coming years as healthcare workers seek more effective means of service provision in remote areas.
However, Juniper claims that significant commercial barriers are stopping deployments in some markets, adding that many of the current offerings were exclusively donor-funded and that only a few services — such as Wazazi Nipendeni in Tanzania — were based on sustainable business models.