mHealth saves lives in developing countries, but is a lifestyle choice in richer countries

During a seminar at the Mobile World Congress, ETISALAT (major telco in Africa and middle east, 140 million subscribers) detailed their Mobile Baby app.

In Zambia, midwives with an untrasound gadget and a smartphone app provide care to pregnant women, measurably avoiding maternal deaths. The women pay directly for the service through their mobile phone.

The same service is offered in Saudi and Emirates, but there users pay for an ultrasound picture of their future child to put on a greeting card.

The conclusion is that mHealth innovation wil be driven by emerging countries because users will pay (by mobile payment) for services which are otherwise not attainable. Richer countries will follow slowly because there are alternatives already available.

Another interesting conclusion of the seminar was that consumers want mobile health care services while physicians want mobile health admin services.

The UK National Health Service (NHS Choices) reported that over a quarter of the visitors to their website come from mobile. Despite that, mobile services are slow to arrive in the UK.

Proponents of mHealth say that it is growing faster than digital music in its infant years, and is expected to be a market qualifier for mobile operators within the next 10 years. I.e. if you don’t have mobile health services, you aren’t a serious mobile operator.

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