The adoption of mobile technologies in every dimension of life has been phenomenal. In the span of two decades, ever-more sophisticated mobile technology has fundamentally altered the ways in which people communicate and conduct business. The disruptive power of these new technologies and the accompanying waves of innovation they have sparked are transforming the health care industry, propelling stakeholders to reassess and repurpose how they provide services.
Mobile device sales in the U.S. are expected to grow from 172 million in 2009 to 215 million in 2016, a 25 percent increase,1 while revenue from mobile data usage is expected to surge from $35 billion in 2008 to $180 billion in 2016, a dramatic 514 percent increase.2 Global mobile traffic has doubled for the fourth year in a row,3 with search queries growing five times in the last two years.4 By 2016, there will be a projected 10 billion mobile devices in use worldwide.3 Mobile device users who downloaded at least one mHealth application (mHealth is the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile devices) onto their smartphone doubled between 2011 and 2012.5
The health care and life sciences industry is recognized as one of the top three fields (along with consumer products and the financial services industry) likely to propel mobile device growth in the next five years.6 Transformative trends in the industry are conducive to remarkable growth in mobile applications – population aging, increasing chronic illness, accelerating health costs, new regulatory reforms and increased consumer demand for health information and self-care will drive mobile solution growth. In addition, the industry is capital-intense, highly regulated and labor-intensive. Digital technologies, including ubiquitous mobile devices, can play a key role in transforming health care into a more-efficient, patient-centered system of care in which individuals have instant, on-demand access to their medical records and powerful clinical decision support tools that empower them to actively participate in their treatment plans. As applications become more user-friendly and technologies expand their reach to remote populations, they will be seamlessly integral to the provision and financing of health services.
The future of mobile communication device utilization in the U.S. health care industry mirrors the bigger challenges facing this industry which consumes 18% of U.S. GDP: to accommodate intense demand for value from purchasers and consumers, new ways of doing business that leverage technologies effectively are requisite. Mobile health is a key element of the industry’s response to the market’s quest for value.
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