Revenue from mobile health (mHealth products)

Mobile health, or mHealth is the term for medical or public health support via a mobile device. Ideas cover a huge range of applications and will be one of many topics discussed during next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

From general health and fitness tracking, to the monitoring of chronic medical conditions, or even for homeopathic remedies, there will be apps and devices to reassure the health-conscious public. Just be wary of any labelled “This application cannot replace any medical advice from a physician”.

A friend recently raved to me about his Nike+ sensor, received as a present at Christmas. A little plastic sensor that fits in the pouch under the insole of special Nike trainers, or into a third-party pouch that can be threaded into the laces of any running shoe. The sensor collects data about your activity, pace and distance travelled that’s wirelessly collected by your iPhone. The associated app tracks progress and can make suggestions to improve performance, and celebrates success with messages from successful athletes.

The idea has been applied to medical products already. There’s an iPhone app that works with certain Johnson and Johnson insulin management devices to track blood sugar levels for diabetics. Displaying the data over time and prompting meal alerts. Historical data can be viewed as graphics on the phone screen and reviewed by health-care professionals to ensure patients are correctly managing the chronic condition.

Smart pills are the next step. Take two with water and track the status of your internal organs. Dutch tech giant, Philips have a healthcare partnerships group working on (you guessed it!) an iPill, that can target medicines to the right point in the digestive tract. Regular pills and capsules are designed to slow-release their payload of drugs into the body, why not time and measure it electronically?

As well as doing lots of good, there are vast amounts of money to be made, so bio-medicals, tech companies and wireless operators will be teaming up. This kind of data could have applications within the insurance industry as well, with the collected data used to classify risk and premiums. All in perfectly ethical ways, of course.

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