While mobile technology has brought its share of excitement to consumers and business professionals, the truly revolutionary innovations may lie just past the horizon of the burgeoning health IT market. But before powerful progressions can be made in this arena, healthcare stakeholders will need reassurance that mobile risk management plans are on stable ground.
The mobile health opportunity
In a recent guest column for Forbes, Deloitte research director Scott Wilson chronicled the massive opportunity that awaits mobile technology providers exploring the healthcare vertical. The market is currently ripe for technology innovation as government mandates and economic realities have made cost-efficiency more important than ever for the swollen U.S. healthcare system.
Wilson sees the greatest potential for smartphones and tablets in facilitating the remote delivery of healthcare solutions. In the short-term, technology could make it easier to monitor patient progress in the crucial days and weeks after they are released from hospital stays. According to Wilson, "preventable readmissions" cost the U.S. healthcare system between $12 billion and $17 billion annually.
Over the long term, smartphones and tablets could be used to improve the quality of care and facilitate the delivery of educational resources for patients dealing with chronic conditions or those restricted by geographic factors or limited physical mobility. With the percentage of Americans ages 60 or older expected to rise from 18 percent of the population to 27 percent between 2009 and 2050, Wilson sees alternative solutions for senior citizens becoming essential.
Aside from managing day-to-day care, healthcare practitioners will also likely leverage mobility during collaborative research projects targeting global goals like the eradication of tropical diseases. Additionally, as machine-to-machine technology and big data analysis become industry mainstays, Wilson's colleagues at Deloitte are predicting that the mobile health market could be worth $4.6 billion by 2014.
MRM lays the groundwork
While the possibilities are rather exciting, the healthcare industry will need a bit of assistance shoring up the gaps in its security infrastructure. The swell of data breaches seen in the past 18 months has shaken consumer confidence to its core. Just this week, the Utah state CIO Steve Fletcher resigned following an incident that may have compromised 280,000 Social Security numbers held in a Department of Health database.
Without the requisite "buy-in" from consumers, the ceiling to mobile health innovation lowers drastically. So just as they have done with government agencies and financial services institutions of late, mobile device management vendors must lead healthcare organizations by the hand into the next generation of secure innovation.