Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Europe shows wide variations in mhealth readiness across member states, finds report

Steve Rogerson
June 16, 2015
Market conditions for mhealth business models vary significantly between the 28 EU member states, according to a report from Research2Guidance. Countries show differences of up to 100 per cent for key market readiness criteria. Therefore it is imperative that companies understand these differences if they are to successfully launch mhealth businesses in Europe.
The report found that the market potential of each of the 28 EU countries was distinctive. For example, health expenditure as a percentage of GDP ranges from five per cent in Romania to 12 per cent in the Netherlands. Furthermore population, number of healthcare professionals and the number of hospitals across the EU differs greatly. Therefore companies that target a particular medical field, for example cardiology, might find only a few dozen or a hundred specialists in a given country. Therefore companies must incorporate this into their go-to-market strategy.
Secondly, in regards to digitalisation, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands are the countries that have the most digitalised societies. For example, smartphone penetration in these countries among the adult population is above 70 per cent, and more than 90 per cent of their populations describe themselves as regular internet users.
At the other end of the spectrum Greece has far less digital natives for mhealth companies to target. Also tablet penetration throughout the 28 EU countries ranges from ten per cent in Hungary to just over half in the Netherlands. Therefore companies with a tablet based mhealth system should factor this in when considering which country would be most suitable.
EHRs and e-prescriptions, both of which are integral to many mhealth systems, are being used, or not as is often the case, to different degrees by healthcare professional throughout the EU. The usage of e-prescription for example ranges from nothing to 100 per cent across the EU. Given that it can take many years to implement these services, mhealth businesses that have designed systems that integrate with these services should consider countries with already established EHR and e-prescription facilities. They should also look at acceptance levels by health care professionals, says the report.
Companies should also be aware of which EU countries are the easiest for doing business. This is divergent across the EU. For example, the number of days needed to get all formal approvals and necessary documentation to commence business varies between three and 35 days.
Finally, each of the 28 EU countries have, to different degrees, established regulatory framework for ehealth technologies. These regulations help companies to understand what is and what is not allowed. For example, in German remote treatment of patients is prohibited, whereas in Spain telemedicine is encouraged.
Given the vast differences across of the 28 EU member states and their respective market conditions, mhealth companies looking to do business in the EU should be acutely aware of these differences. Companies should therefore conduct an in-depth analysis of each country to establish which provides the most favourable conditions for their particular mhealth service, and build their business plan accordingly.
Scrutinising the EU countries’ market conditions for mhealth, the “EU Mhealth Market Conditions Benchmarking 2015” report contains a detailed profile of mhealth app market readiness in each of the 28 EU countries as a benchmark for potential mhealth business. The results are based on five market readiness dimensions – ehealth adoption, mhealth market potential, level of digitalisation, ease of starting business and mhealth regulation, measured and compared using 26 criteria. In addition more than 4000 mhealth practitioners have rated the EU country’s market readiness for mhealth.
The report illustrates the broad range of market conditions across the 28 EU countries and concludes that mhealth businesses must consider these vast differences when developing their business plan and their go-to-market strategy.

• RFID is rapidly making headway into the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, especially in assets tracking, supply chain management and inventory management, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan. In particular, the need for inventory management to reduce instances of loss or misplacement of medical equipment, supplies or drugs, along with efforts to reduce errors and improve patient safety, drives the market for RFID smart cabinet systems.

The analysis found that the uptake of RFID smart cabinets was likely to gather momentum over the next three to five years. The UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain are leading markets.

"The low infrastructure costs and quick returns associated with RFID smart cabinets encourage their adoption in hospitals," said Frost & Sullivan healthcare research analyst Shruthi Parakkal. "End users prefer RFID smart cabinets with cost-effective architecture that eliminates redundancies – such as multiple paths – and reduces interference."

Unproven business models and resistance to changing the status quo are major factors limiting investments in RFID smart cabinet systems. Since countries decide the frequencies used for RFID according to their spectrum and bandwidth availability, RFID device manufacturers also face the challenge of designing products that are compatible across regions.

Moreover, the lack of a long-term vision on the evolution of RFID applications from the perspective of policy makers, vendors and end users could stall the development of this promising technology. To pave the way for large-scale deployments, suppliers must focus on technical capabilities such as range of uninterrupted RFID, automation and integrated analytics.

"In the long run, virtual management and managed services that involve minimum capital and overhead expenses will gain traction over the outright purchase of cabinets," said Parakkal. "RFID cabinets with cloud-based integrated analytics that can be accessed through web applications will become popular, facilitated by the internet of things and near field communications."

Continued and growing recognition of the technology's potential to improve outcomes and efficiency in a healthcare environment will keep the RFID smart cabinets market on track towards swift growth, says the report.