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Mobile Health for Independent Living

This report provides an overview of the mobile health, or  mHealth, landscape, covering the macroeconomic context, health-related challenges faced by people as they age, and mHealth solutions to enable independent living.   

Mobile health, or mHealth, refers to the provision of health services using mobile devices. It is a subset of eHealth, which encompasses all aspects of computing and electronic communications in healthcare. Mobile health can be further segmented into phone-based and embedded mobile solutions.   

Mobile technologies have been gradually penetrating the field of healthcare for several years. Today there is a wide array of devices and systems that rely on mobile networks to deliver health information and services. Telehealth applications enable remote specialists to be present, virtually, at the scene of an injury or operation. Mobile phones are being used for text-message health campaigns. And at least 5,000 health-related smartphone apps are now available, offering all manner of tools to help consumers monitor and maintain their health.    

According to ABI Research (2009), 15 million mHealth sensors and devices will be in use by 2012. That said, the mHealth field is far from hitting its stride. The potential to develop targeted mobile solutions that address real healthcare sector needs is wide open, and this confluence of consumer electronics and healthcare is beginning to gain momentum.

Obstacles, however, abound. Among them are uncertainties surrounding regulation and reimbursement, data integration and device interoperability, and the lack of clear evidence that mHealth solutions are viable on a wide scale and can deliver real efficiencies.

This report was done by AARP in collaboration with GSMA and Waggener Edstrom and it will be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain the week of February 14, 2011.

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