It has long been forecasted that the growing wearable technology market will have a direct role in the growth of the mobile health market, and as both of those sectors see broader adoption, they could expand in tandem. But some countries are working more steadily on making sure that mobile health technology becomes a standard part of medical practice — European countries in particular.
And research shows that some countries are steadily ahead of others with progress in mobile health (often referred to as mHealth or eHealth). A study published last week from mobile research specialist Research2Guidance shows that Denmark takes the lead on mobile health adoption. Following Denmark is Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Estonia, Portugal, Germany, and France.
The survey looked at a few items when evaluating how countries rank in mobile health tech, and much of it had to do with the ease with which companies can explore newer tech, as well as regulatory barriers. Mobile health adoption, rate of digital integration, market potential, efficiency and ease of developing a business, developer index, and mobile health regulations were the items of focus. These factors contribute to an overall market readiness, and Denmark was found to be performing the best across the categories, making it prime for the burgeoning mobile health industry.
Denmark and these other highly-ranked countries are getting in on an industry that promises to be huge within the next few years, and wearables will necessarily be a part of pushing the mHealth market along. mHealth Intelligence reports that the wearables market is predicted to establish 230 million units and reach $32 billion within the next four years — just one of many predictions about how hefty the wearables sector will be through 2020. Items that have been on the market for a couple of years already such as fitness bands are just the start to what the mobile health/wearables scene will look like. Apple’s much-anticipated watch has started to ship, and the health monitoring aspect of that device is expected to be a big draw for users. Of course, smartwatches have been available for years already, but their role in monitoring fitness, blood sugar, and other medical measurements are increasingly coming into focus. And tech giants like Google have publicized their vested interest in developing advanced technologies like blood sugar-reading contact lenses to get ahead of the game in the mHealth/wearables field. Samsung is another big name getting in on mHealth; it announced last week that it is partnering with Partners HealthCare in the U.S. to “develop the next generation of personalized digital and mobile solutions for health and wellness.” The companies will focus on software development to improve chronic disease management.
The barriers still exist, of course, between mHealth and its broad adoption. A big one is user wariness of the security of mobile health tools and services. But considering that users are much less leery of buying a fitness band than they are of remotely connecting across the internet for a doctor’s appointment, perhaps the next few years will demonstrate a healthy link between the two as wearable adoption pushes forward mHealth’s growth.