The Mobile Health Paradox: Why Data Isn’t Enough

The Mobile Health Paradox: Why Data Isn’t Nearly Enough

Across most developed economies, healthcare costs are rising faster than inflation. In the U.K., the National Health Service (NHS) faces an estimated funding gap of £30 billion by 2020. In the U.S., the situation looks more bleak, with total annual healthcare spending surpassing $3.8 trillion , representing an astonishing 17.4 percent of the country’s total GDP. A key cause of the rise in healthcare spending lies in the spiraling costs of treating preventable chronic diseases (such as obesity, heart disease, stroke and cancer), which account for 88 percent of total healthcare spending. This figure isn’t surprising when you consider that approximately half of all adults in the U.S. have one or more chronic conditions. More worryingly, seven of the top 10 causes of deaths occur as a result of preventable chronic diseases, with cigarette smoking alone accounting for 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. These facts suggest that many of the key healthcare challenges of the twenty-first century lie in how we tackle chronic disease. This article will explore the role of mobile technologies in meeting these challenges, why they have failed to do so until now and what a solution might look like in the future. The paradox of mobile health With almost five billion mobile phone users in the world, of which two billion are smartphones, mobile health (also known as m-health or connected health) has been lauded as an attractive solution to address the challenges of the rising costs of chronic morbidities. Moreover, the ubiquity of smartphones has led to a burgeoning market for m-health apps and wearable devices, resulting in more health data being collected than ever before. This has given rise to a phenomenon known as “the quantified self,” the process of tracking everyday activities to learn more about yourself. For example, it […]