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The future’s bright for mHealth

mhealthThis week my blog is prompted by an item I noticed, amongst the usual torrent of all the mHealth and digital health news, announcing an mHealth research collaboration between Samsung and the University of California San Francisco.  It wasn’t remarkable in itself but confirmed a pattern I’ve seen emerging for some time.

USA sets the pace

A number of leading US universities have been acutely aware of the potential for mHealth and have cleverly leveraged their skills in IT, technology and medicine to create cross-disciplinary centre of excellence.  A few examples I’ve noticed:

       USC in Los Angeles with their Body Computing Center, led by the excellent Dr Leslie Saxon

       MIT has many initiatives running including the Sana volunteer organisation which has created an open source platform for mobile data capture and storage

       George Washington University’s ‘mHealth Collaborative’

       Johns Hopkins University with their global MHealth Initiative and their extensive mHealth evidence database

       And let’s not forget Stanford, who are currently running a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called ‘Mobile Health Without Borders’  which I am currently attending, along with hundreds of enthusiastic young and mature students.

Europe getting in on the act

European universities don’t want to miss out either, near me in Manchester we have the University of Manchester who founded an mHealth Ecosystem bringing together acedemics, technology companies and health professionals.  In Spain the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona is offering mHealth and Telemedicine training via the internet. I’m sure there are many more examples too, in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Why is mHealth so popular with university students?

I’m only speculating here, but I’d guess that there are a number of motivating factors:

       This generation is the first to have been weaned on mobile, therefore it is totally intuitive for them that mobile is the delivery channel, whether it’s media, pizzas or healthcare.

       They’re also drawn by the potential for mHealth to improve the life of others, and given a difficult employment outlook, using their skills to create something meaningful, whether paid or unpaid

       Equally their university teachers see the potential for this focus to win research grants and further employment opportunities for their students as the mHealth ‘industry’ grows and matures. The US universities in particular are fantastic at fostering open collaboration between industry, government and financial sponsors.

What does it all mean?

To me, this influx and nurturing of digitally native talent leads to an inescapable conclusion – mHealth will succeed, and will move from being a niche activity to the mainstream.  There are simply too many talented people joining the movement for it not to succeed.  

Maybe you disagree, or have a different view on why there is this level of involvement – if so, I’d love to hear your comments or feel free to contact me.

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