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mHealth Predictions 2014

2014For my second blog I’m diving into the murky pool of mHealth predictions for the year ahead. I appreciate I’m not the only one who will be rash enough to make predictions at this time of year, and I equally understand that not all of these will be correct, but I’ll be surprised if some of this doesn’t work out. Feel free to remind me in a year’s time!

Prediction 1: mHealth will be led by consumerisation in 2014. If we look at where the big investments in mHealth startups has been so far, it’s West Coast US venture capital firms investing in consumer fitness and wellness plays like Fitbit. The reason is simple – these devices are fun, easy to use, lightly regulated, sold at an attractive price point and hook up nicely with all those smartphones out there. So now we have hundreds of thousands of people wandering around with trackers on their belt or wrist, and this is driving a whole ecosystem of how this data can be integrated into other apps and more professional grade health monitoring. 

Prediction 2: mHealth will start to be led by healthcare professionals in 2014. Hmm – aren’t I contradicting what I just said in prediction 1? Well no, what I mean is that the healthcare professionals are bright people and can see the rising use of mobile technology, as well as the pressures on their time and budgets to treat more patients for less money. They’ve also spotted the danger that mHealth solutions could develop piecemeal, and want to take control of the information architecture, so they don’t end up having to log into 100 different diabetes monitoring systems. So they’re starting to take control and even building the solutions themselves – see this initiative called Simple Telehealth in the UK which is taking off with NHS groups. 

Prediction 3: M2M connected medical devices will start to make a real impact. In my previous role we were working with a number of leading device companies who saw a lot of benefits in connecting their medical devices – to allow portability, to provide realtime information, and support online maintenance to avoid pesky recalls. Obviously those devices have had to go through the regulatory cycle and several will be coming out this year I understand (here’s an example). This will really start to make the benefits of connected health visible.   

Prediction 4: Wearables will enter the mainstream. At one time I thought mHealth wearables were too much like science fiction, or certainly only suitable for a niche segment like the military or athletes. Google Glass, whatever you think of it, has shaken up and legitimised the wearables market and will stimulate renewed development (see this example from Philips). So on top of the trackers and smart watches we now have connected socks, bras and T shirts, and this is certainly not a joke.  

So what do you think? Please feel free to add your own predictions, challenge these or contact me.

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