Report highlights potential benefits of mobile communication devices for health

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 06 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3623
  1. Rory Watson
  1. 1Brussels

A report on the use of mobile communication devices in managing treatment claims that they could save €99bn (£84bn; $130bn) in healthcare costs in the European Union by 2017.

The joint report on “mHealth,” by the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GMSA), the body that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, also says that these technologies could add €93bn to the EU’s gross domestic product through greater productivity of employees.1

The study says that using mobile communication devices to manage treatment could bring benefits to patients and the medical profession alike. Its use, the authors claim, would make it possible to treat 185 million people across the EU more effectively, preventing 589 000 cases of chronic disease, while reducing an individual’s annual healthcare costs by €537.

The shortage of medical staff in the EU could be met, it suggests, by saving 42 million working days for doctors by 2017 and extending treatment, by using the time that doctors save and hospital beds that are freed, to an additional 126 million patients.

However, the report warns that four barriers—regulatory, economic, structural, and technological—could limit the benefits of use of mobile communication devices, reducing it to just 10% of its potential by 2017.

To overcome these barriers the authors call on regulators to integrate mHealth into national healthcare strategies and priorities. They point to the need for regulation requiring patient data to be shared with different providers to ensure greater cohesion of treatment and the development of technology standards to interoperable and standardised solutions.

The report offers two national case studies. By 2017 use of mHealth in Germany, the authors claim, could benefit 30 million patients, save €16.3bn in healthcare costs, and add €22.1bn to its gross domestic product. The equivalent figures calculated for Spain are 19 million patients, savings of €10.2bn, and €7.9bn on GDP.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3623


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