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Exploring benefits of mobile applications for health - 10/04/2014

A healthcare application performing real-time health monitoring, running on a smartphone ©Getty Images

The EU is launching a consultation to gather ideas about how mobile technology could be used to improve health services in Europe, leading to potential savings of €99bn.

Known as “mHealth”, possibilities include using apps on smartphones and tablets to:

 

  • measure blood pressure
  • remind patients to take medication
  • deliver insulin to diabetics by transmitting control signals to the pump.

The EU believes these apps could lead to €99bn of savings in Europe, helping cut healthcare costs by:

  • enabling early diagnosis
  • encouraging a move towards prevention rather than cure
  • allowing health professionals to save up to 30% of their time on accessing and analysing data.

mHealth also has the benefit of providing patients with greater control over their own health and well-being.

Investing in innovation

It is estimated that by 2017, 3.4 billion people around the world will own a smartphone and half of them will be using mHealth apps.

Nearly 100,000 such apps are already available, with the top 20 free sports, fitness and health apps accounting for more than 230 million downloads worldwide.

The EU has so far invested €100m in mHealth research, funding significant innovation. For example:

  • patients with kidney failure will soon be able to monitor their dialysis on their smartphone
  • apps already exist to manage stress by creating virtual environments in which users can learn relaxation techniques
  • medical staff in Graz, Austria, have greatly improved internal management with a new mobile system.

Almost €95m of further investment is up for grabs over the next 2 years.

Consulting the public

Despite the benefits of mHealth, concerns remain, such as the protection of data gathered by health apps and rules about how they can be certified as medical devices.

The EU is now inviting citizens, health professionals, public authorities, mobile phone manufacturers and others to give their views on issues related to mHealth, including what safety requirements there should be for health apps and how to encourage entrepreneurship around mHealth in Europe.

You can respond to the mHealth consultation by 3 July. A summary of responses will be published at the end of the year.

Press release - healthcare in your pocket

What mHealth can do for you

Green Paper on mHealth

Digital agenda for Europe - eHealth

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