mHealth News: Deloitte Health's “Opportunities and Challenges in mHealth”

By  Lindsey Weintraub   Social Media Strategist | June 18,2013

mHealthWe tuned in to Deloitte Health’s Dbriefs Health Sciences series webcast, “Opportunities and Challenges in mHealth” to learn about what’s going on in the mobile healthcare space in terms of unmet market needs, current technological capabilities, and industry adoption. We heard from industry experts Harry Greenspun, MD, Senior Advisor, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte LLP, Quinn Solomon, Health Care Lead, Deloitte Digital, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Craig Wigginton, Vice Chairman & U.S. Telecommunications Sector Leader, Deloitte & Touche LLP. They discussed the current state of mobile healthcare and the opportunities and challenges present in mHealth that exist for health care providers, medical device companies, medical app developers, pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, the public, and the government.

One reason to get excited about the business opportunities that lie in mHealth is that Deloitte Health reports that the health care and life sciences sector is recognized as one of the top three fields (along with consumer products and the financial services industry) likely to experience new mobile business model growth in the next five years, according to the Deloitte Open Mobile Survey 2012.

According to Deloitte Health, “mHealth holds promise for improvement along the value chain – maximizing professionals’ time and productivity, improving quality, increasing access and equity, stimulating greater consumer involvement, and potentially decreasing costs, or perhaps equally as importantly, getting better value for the money invested.”

Here’s a brief overview of some of the key insights shared during the Opportunities and Challenges in mHealth” webcast:

Privacy Concerns

  • Unique in healthcare
  • Lots of people willing to share information in cancer community
  • Lots of patient support communities: Cure Together, Patients Like Me

PW Insight: Patient support communities are huge! The internet and social media has helped to change the patient experience for the better by providing healthcare news and information, patient education and a resource for patients to know that they are not alone. Understanding patient support communities is crucial for understanding today’s patient – healthcare providers, medical device companies, pharma companies, and other health and wellness organizations need to understand the role that patient support communities play in the patient decision-making process, and need to incorporate this knowledge into their marketing strategies. If you would like, read more about The Empowered Patient to understand how patient support communities have changed today’s patient. 

  • Someone checking-in for cancer treatment may be willing to check in, but someone with gonorrhea treatment is probably not likely to check in and publicize treatment
  • Depends on who you’re sharing your information with
  • Another sensitive issue: mental health amongst military veterans
  • “When the technology is there and there’s a clear benefit to the consumer, to the patient, we’ll see it take off”
  • The use of data
    • There’s a lot of value in getting info whether it’s directly through mobile use, social media, etc.
    • Garner customer feedback in a real-time basis

PW Insight: Here’s another important aspect for medical marketers. Gathering data from social media and mobile use can help companies to better understand the demographics, behaviors, needs, wants, likes and dislikes of their target market. Are you taking full advantage of the latest technological capabilities in order to best serve your target market? If you aren’t, you could be missing out on untapped opportunities and wasting resources. 

3 Key Trends in Mobile Health

  1. Customer experience – patient experience
    • How do we improve experience of dealing with “us” – as an organization, whether hospital or insurance planner, etc.
    • “The future of healthcare is every other industry today”
  2. Health & Wellness
    • Everybody walk – pedometer application
    • Track sleep patterns – give physicians a holistic picture of one’s health, not every piece of data all the time but alerts when certain thresholds passed
  3. Ecosystems/Platforms

PW Insight: The question here for healthcare companies is how you can use technology, in particular mobile apps, to better the patient experience. Mobile apps can be used to help patients with medication adherence, to motivate them to take care of their health, for health care monitoring, etc., there are many possibilities. Medical companies need to evaluate how they can best serve their patients and what technology will provide the most value for both the consumers they serve as well as the value for the company and its stakeholders. 

What’s the Greatest Opportunity that Lies in mHealth?

  • Population health, consumer driven healthcare, cost savings, etc.
  • Easy to start small, start basic, a customer service tool
  • Connected devices, m2m = machine to machine
  • Embedded medical monitoring gadgets could grow to 170 million devices in next few years
  • Medical monitoring doubled last 4 years expected to more than triple in next few years
  • Concern around innovation community – if we create something too impactful we’ll end up in a regulatory environment
    • Quinn – there will be an impact on the release cycle if apps needed FDA approval
    • “I think it’s a very manageable situation.”
    • When there are items that plug into the phone itself, those are regulated by the FDA, whereas when mobile apps act as a software integrator it doesn’t require FDA regulation

PW Insight: There is an opportunity for medical companies to take advantage of the mobile health market with such growth predicted for medical monitoring. 

How Can the Industry Monetize mHealth?

  • Less hospitals subscribing to TV services, but more are subscribing to Wi-Fi
  • Shifting with the general trends
  • Apps for game cost efficiency, billing efficiency, access to records, list is almost limitless as to areas of opportunity
  • Shift toward a patient-centered and value-based delivery model
  • Transition to a more diverse, integrated and seamless system of care no longer dominated by episodic acute care treated a ta brick-and-mortal hospital is evident

PW Insight: Health and medical companies must not forget that not every app has to be consumer facing. Although the majority of apps are currently directed toward the patient experience, there is also an opportunity to provide apps that help facilitate business processes and create better efficiences that lead to more profitable, leaner businesses. 

Final Comments

  • Craig-“I don’t think anybody has as quite as sensitive data as healthcare except for financial services.”
  • I think that’s a good industry to follow there are a lot of best practices there.
  • “It’s up to everybody to put some skin in the game because it’s going to be very important in moving this industry forward”
  • “I’ve got a Nike fuel band and Fitbit as well, both of which have shamed me into exercising” – Harry Greenspun
  • Incentivized healthcare as compared to safe driver discounts – if I go out and crash my car into poles I don’t get as good of rates on my car insurance. Incentivized healthcare is an important topic of conversation but no one is really pursuing it. Small step in the right direction is wellness tools and vitality scores.

Click here to view the archive of the webcast.

Click here to view the slides from the webcast. 

PW Insight: With the rise of the Empowered Patient, supported by an increased focus on patients’ needs and desires due to the changing healthcare economy, understanding how to reach today’s patients is more important than ever for health, medical and wellness companies. If the patient is in power, then the question becomes, “how do best satisfy patient needs?” In today’s digitally dominant world, with people moving increasingly into the mobile space, healthcare companies are forced to focus attention on how to reach and support patients in the mobile space. 

Lindsey Weintraub is passionate about solving business challenges through the digital trifecta of social, content, and email.

InsightsMarketing strategy for healthy brands.