Convergence of mHealth, telehealth, and social media for a new healthcare delivery model

Recently, I came across an article on mobihealthnews.com that talked about the top 10 connected healthcare predictions for 2014. Convergence of mHealth, telehealth, and social media to evolve into a new healthcare model was one of them. I was compelled to do some research on the topic because I wanted to understand the “how” behind the prediction. “How will mhealth and telehealth come together”; “How will social media play a role in new healthcare delivery model”; and how will the healthcare ecosystem benefit from all this?” So, I thought of doing some research to find answers to these questions.

As I launched my investigation, I read about mhealth and telehealth companies that are working together to blur the line between each other for the benefit of patients and healthcare community. For example, Bosch Healthcare and Great call, makers of the Jitterbug phone, joined hands to launch the Health Buddy Mobile, a platform on the Jitterbug Plus cellphone that enables users to connect with Robert Bosch Healthcare’s telehealth solutions. The platform is tailored for patients with chronic diseases and enables users to connect to their care manager via a cellphone with pre-loaded applications. Similarly, Alere HomeLink cellular connectivity hub, which connects to compatible devices via low energy Bluetooth or USB, introduced a 7-inch touchscreen display that allows consumers to submit test measurements and respond to disease management questions at the convenience of their home. The data is sent to Alere’s CloudCare Platform where it integrates with the company’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) solution and allows for the seamless flow of data from all connected devices, including point-of-care diagnostics and remote monitoring at home.

Now, let’s talk about the relevance of social media in the new healthcare delivery model. We have all heard about websites like Medhelp, PatientsLikeMe, CureTogether, and Daily Strength. While all of them are social network for patients, some of them also provide tracking tools for pain, weight and other chronic conditions. So, patients can not only connect with other patients with similar medical conditions, they can also track and compare health data to better understand their bodies and contribute data to research. mhealth apps like Moody Me and Sleep on It have tied up with MedHelp for reaching out to cosumers who frequent the MedHelp site.

There isn’t an iota of doubt that telemedicine and m-health markets are poised for tremendous growth in the coming years. After all, Telemedicine dedicated device and software markets, which were at $843 million in 2012, are anticipated to reach $2.9 billion by 2019. m-health markets related to telemedicine at $1.4 billion are anticipated to reach $1.5 trillion by 2019 due to the use of 7 billion smart phones and half that many connected tablet devices all over the world. What will be more interesting to see is how these markets collaborate and innovate for devising healthcare delivery models that keep getting better every year.