Mobile health: Hallelujah or bah humbug?

Is mobile the future of healthcare, or more hype than substance?

April 23, 2014



There is definitely a burgeoning mass of data from successful mHealth experiments showing it is possible to improve access to care and clinical quality while saving money. Unfortunately, little of that was presented at the conference, but one presentation by Bella Hwang from Weltel, demonstrated how an mHealth project serving HIV-infected patients in Kenya used regular text messaging to dramatically improve adherence to antiretroviral drug regimens (62% compliance vs 50% in the control group) and suppress the viral load (57% vs. 48% in the control group; the project is estimated to generate $10 million in net savings over 3 years and break-even in year 2). It was an impressive analysis. I have seen other equally compelling stories, although they are largely from small pilot studies and not from large real world deployments. However, the night is young and Scrooge has not yet been out with the Ghost of mHealth Yet To Come. Just think what Tiny Tim could do with an iPhone, a compelling fitness app and an unlimited data plan!