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IT & Communication


obile health or ‘mHealth’ is a catchy phrase that represents a broad spectrum of products and services, from wearable glucose monitors, to

web-based fitness applications, to networks of dispersed healthcare professionals developing and executing daily treatment plans for chronically ill patients. Today, mHealth is enabling consumers with insight driven health manage- ment and offers tangible opportunities for all industry stakeholders. mHealth has gained significant traction and invest-

ment from many participants, as it has evolved to substan- tively-funded business ventures aimed at reaching broad consumer segments. Research reports by Accenture suggest that mHealth products and services can help meet two important goals: provide high quality care and reduce costs, particularly of managing chronic diseases. New healthcare funding (in particular, emerging reim-

bursement policies), the pervasiveness of mobile tech- nologies and the current state of the health market make this an interesting time for the life science industry. Should companies make significant investments and establish leadership positions now? Or, should they wait and see how policies, technologies and stakeholders’ strategies evolve? Which options make the most sense given the critical and necessary role of pharmaceutical companies in improving patient health and their need to create new value streams for key stakeholders?

Why mhealth now? Accenture finds that several factors are converging to posi- tion mHealth into mainstream healthcare. Primarily, the need for the treatment of chronic diseases by a rapidly aging population is at a high. In the U.S., 86 percent of people over the age of 65 suffer from at least one chronic ailment (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstruc- tive pulmonary disease, asthma, cancer, or arthritis) with the majority having more than one.1

Collectively and

globally, the treatment of these diseases account for about three-fourths of healthcare expenditure, leading to a strain on financial and medical resources. Secondly, the shortcomings of episodic treatment and

event-driven reimbursement are well known. Patients delay seeing a healthcare professional until the symptoms severely impact their quality of life and/or limit treatment options making the use of more costly and more invasive treatment necessary. Recent studies have also highlighted sporadic patient compliance as a key concern. In a UCLA study of patients discharged from a hospital, reports reveal that 73 percent failed to use at least one prescribed medi- cation, and only 32 percent had taken all medications prescribed, resulting in “delayed recoveries, complications and costly readmissions.”2 Similarly, relying on patients with chronic diseases

Mark Laleike leads the mobile technology practice for Accenture’s Life Sciences group. His focus includes advisory services for strategies and priorities related to the use of mobile technologies, competency development for the IT sector and business functions involved in the use of mobile technologies; as well as application and solution development in addition to end-to-end service management.

Rick Ratliff is Accenture’s global lead for Connected Health IT. He is a leader in the strategic use of information technology in various healthcare environments with a focus on the electronic exchange of health information between a patient’s care providers.

such as diabetes to assess whether treatment adjustment is necessary can be unproductive. A recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) article found significantly improved glycemic control in adults with type 1 diabetes who used devices vs. patients who used traditional home monitoring and reporting. These results were found to be similar to a trial by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, which sent text reminders to teenage patients’ cell phones to take their medications. The result was a drop in the A1C levels from an average of 11 percent to 9 percent in the first three months.3

Accordingly, mHealth addresses some

of the outcome and cost issues related to traditional and episodic treatment to improve patient health.

The Evolution of mHealth Accenture asserts that mHealth will evolve at different rates and through different paths, depending on a country’s healthcare landscape and the scope of the mHealth solu- tion. For example, Accenture states that the United States is several years away from adopting comprehensive solutions but this timeframe will be easier to traverse in comparison to Western Europe due to private payer dynamics, politi- cal agendas and healthcare economic factors. We envision immediate adoption and rapid growth of narrowly-focused mHealth solutions (e.g., Web and mobile-enabled drug adherence solutions) due to ease of payment and limited barriers to usage. 31

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