Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

European Commission launches mobile health consultation

Iain Morris
April 15, 2014

The European Commission has launched a mobile health consultation aimed at finding ways of improving the health of Europeans through the use of gadgets including smartphones and remote-monitoring devices.

Authorities believe that by 2017 mobile health technologies have the potential to save the European Union some €99 billion in annual healthcare costs by giving patients more independence and helping to prevent health problems.

Technologies could also be used to create a more efficient healthcare system, they say, and to create opportunities for the developers of new and innovative services.

"Mobile health will reduce costly visits to hospitals, help citizens take charge of their own health and wellbeing, and move towards prevention rather than cure,” said Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner with responsibility for the digital agenda. “It is also a great opportunity for the booming app economy and for entrepreneurs.”

Kroes says she is encouraged by the fact that some 100,000 mobile health applications are already available across numerous platforms, and that the top 20 free sports, fitness and health apps already account for 231 million downloads worldwide.
Projections also indicate that some 3.4 billion people worldwide will own a smartphone and half of hem will be using mobile health apps by 2017.

Nevertheless, authorities have expressed concern about the use of mobile health data, the lack of interoperability between various systems and the legal framework applicable to lifestyle and wellbeing apps.

It is, for instance, unclear whether some apps fall into the category of medical devices and need to obtain CE marking before they can be introduced to the market.

The European Commission also emphasizes the importance of building trust among health professionals and helping people to use mobile health services effectively.

“Mobile health has a great potential to empower citizens to manage their own health and stay healthy longer, to trigger greater quality of care and comfort for patients, and to assist health professionals in their work,” said Tonio Borg, the European Commissioner for Health. “As such, exploring mobile health solutions can contribute to modern, efficient and sustainable health system.”

Stakeholders including consumer groups, healthcare professionals, public authorities, app developers, device makers and telecoms operators are invited to respond to the consultation by 3 July 2014 to express their views on the various mobile health issues.
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