Mobile health applications are growing in importance, but there is a need for government do more to co-ordinate their use, according to a new study by the Big Innovation Centre.
The thinktank, which provides the secretariat for the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence, has published the Global mHealth Industry Landscape Overview 2020 in collaboration with Deep Knowledge Analytics, looking at 260 companies active in the field and broken down on a regional basis.
It shows the UK has been among the most active countries in promoting the trend, with initiatives such as the NHS Apps Library and the Government’s acknowledgement of AI within its Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge.
This prompts the authors to predict an increase in the technological sophistication of mHealth apps, and an increase in the number that incorporate AI. They also forecast rapid growth in the sub-sectors of telehealth and personal healthcare, focused on providing remote care and monitoring of elderly people.
In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has promoted the development of tools and public interest in using them.
But Professor Birgitte Andersen, chief executive officer of Big Innovation Centre, highlighted one of the conclusions of the report and warned that not enough is being done to properly co-ordinate the take-up of the solutions.
Population health challenges
She commented: “We see a clear trend of several countries (and the UK in particular) developing a very robust mHealth industry ecosystem of companies, investors and technologies at their disposal, but failing to sufficiently utilise these resources to their fullest extent in terms of their potential to help address population health challenges of substantial national concern, due to a lack of efficient cross-sector collaboration and synergetic co-ordination, management and execution on a government level.
“The raw resources that are in place to make mHealth a game changer for global health are enormous, but much more remains to be done in terms of effectively coordinating and directing these raw resources on a government level.”
Other conclusions include that the precision and personalisation of apps is increasing, and that various drivers are becoming stronger, such as rising healthcare costs and the worries around pandemics.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0