mHealth: An Untapped Multi-Million-Dollar Industry in Latin America

mhealth

In the mobile health niche, the mobile phone is a fundamental tool for the development of a region – Latin America – in which the healthcare industry lags behind.

mHealth addresses a deep pool of mobile apps and services for the healthcare industry. It facilitates mass prevention via remote access in order to simplify the relationship between patients and healthcare entities (hospitals, doctors, clinics, insurance companies, etc.). The sector embarks numerous developments, from patient monitoring to appointment and medication reminders and even clinic geolocation services.

Touching Lives through Mobile Health, a report based on a study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the GSMA in 2012, reveals that the mHealth industry will be worth US$23 billion by 2017. What’s more, US$1.6 billion of that amount will correspond to Latin America, where the sector is expected to grow at a 50% annual rate over the next six years.

The report also indicates that Brazil, Mexico and Argentina will account for 67% of the mHealth business in Latin America.

Brazil and Mexico, Dormant Giants

The study concludes that more than 40 million patients could be treated in Brazil and Mexico via mobile health services by 2017, thus:

– empowering poor and chronically ill patients,

– supporting public health institutions, and

– improving quality of life.

What will the impact in these countries be?

Extended medical attention to 28.4 million new patients in Brazil and 15.5 million patients in Mexico.

– Improved quality and efficiency, and a cost reduction of US$17.9 billion (US$14.1 billion in Brazil and US$3.8 billion in Mexico).

– 200,000 new jobs.

14.6 million fewer working days for doctors, thanks to better prevention, diagnostics and treatment.

A healthier workforce, adding US$12.9 billion to the combined GDP of Brazil and Mexico.

The study also points out four major obstacles for mHealth in the region. Overcoming them would imply the takeoff of a multi-million-dollar industry:

Regulations

Political and regulatory focus is not yet developed enough to support mobile health solutions that reach patients and healthcare professionals in a fast and effective manner.

Economy

It is essential to develop critical evidence that demonstrates mHealth’s positive impact in order for clinics, governments and insurers to invest.

Structure

The fragmentation of healthcare systems restricts information sharing and process alignment, preventing the mHealth industry from effectively adjusting.

Technology

Current health solutions lack interoperability and standardization.

Learn more about the state of mHealth in Mexico and Brazil here.

This text has been adapted and translated into English by Emily Stewart from its original Spanish publication.

About the author

Clarisa Herrera

Communications professional and journalist specialized in marketing, branding and media analysis. Professor of journalism and communications. Investigator of trends and behaviors with relation to business. Content editor. Twitter @theguapa

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