My education in the healthcare industry is still somewhat in its infancy, but I really enjoy learning about mHealth in particular. This probably stems from my general love of technology, but also from my fascination with business and watching companies and industries grow.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks with mHealth is there are way too many people developing products rather than businesses.
One of my favorite shows is Shark Tank which gives everyday people the opportunity to present their business to billionaires looking for an investment of some sort. One of the most common comments the investors make is that the person has a product and not a business. It is such a thin line but essential to true success. Products of some sort are essential to a business, but they are not in and of themselves a business.
That is the problem with most of the companies in mHealth at this point. There are tons of apps and gadgets and other fun things out there, but there is no one company that is trying to bring it all together. Interoperability is the real basis of success in this industry. Having to go to ten different companies for your healthcare needs is no different from what we have always had, except you are using electronics instead of paper.
While that is a step in the right direction, it is not the level of change that will be needed for real success in the industry. There will inevitably be more companies that fail than succeed, as is the case in any industry.
The healthcare industry is very similar to aviation in this area. The air traffic control system is essentially the same system that has been in use for decades. While there have been great advances in technology, namely GPS, we still use the same archaic tools that keep the industry inefficient and cluttered. Clearly major advancements have been implemented in terms of aircraft and related systems that make air travel faster and safer, but we are not even close to using all of the tools available.
There are plans in development to better use the improved tools that are available, but they have still not been widely implemented for numerous reasons. Instead aviation remains inefficient and the consumer is the one who suffers in the form of increased costs with reduced service.
Healthcare is quickly following the same path. While there have been amazing developments in the technology doctors use on a day-to-day basis, the system itself is still incredibly inefficient.
That being said, I have great hope that this will change in the coming years. As more major companies like AT&T, Qualcomm, Verizon, etc. become involved in the industry we will start to see the real breakthroughs that will give mHealth its legitimacy. What will be even more incredible is when some of these tech companies really link up with traditional healthcare companies that have real power in the industry.
About a decade ago eHealth companies were all the rage, and now they are all essentially gone. While there is no guarantee that mHealth will not end up the same way, you have to think they stand a better chance. Smartphones are an increasingly essential part of everyday life for almost everyone. It only makes sense to include healthcare in that arena.