The world is undergoing a mobile phone revolution. With a billion new mobile subscribers in the last four years, almost half the world’s population now uses mobile communications. Subscriptions are expected to exceed the four billion mark by 2018.
Emerging markets are the key drivers of future growth and just as the uptake of the mobile phone is on the ascension, so is their utility and importance in healthcare (mHealth). Indeed, given the penetration of mobile phones in developed and emerging markets, and across urban and rural areas, they offer one of the most exciting innovations for the delivery of solutions that improve individual and community-based health outcomes, at a cost that is affordable to the many and not the few. This promise is being driven by new technology innovations and the entry into the market of both small innovators and big business.
“According to PwC, mobile technology will play a significant role in the provision of healthcare services globally, and the growth of the mHealth market will lead to a revenue opportunity worth Rs 3000 crore for India and USD23 billion for the world by 2017 …”
The industry understands the potential of mHealth and many have already adopted mobile phone technology to help improve patient outcomes beyond the provision of their medicines alone. This resonates well with patients, providers and increasingly payers.
However, in support of market access, use of mobile phone technology can be used here and now by industry in support of their market access planning and programmes. This article focuses on this particular aspect of mobile phone use to consider the opportunities afforded by mobile-enabled payer research communities.
The established way
A critical component of market access planning is engaging with payers who can provide ‘real world’ insight into the potential hurdles to success, while identifying those opportunities that are not readily apparent to industry. Beyond market research, global, regional and local payer advisory boards are increasingly being convened to deliver this. There are more than 500 mHealth projects operating globally, more than 50 in India.
However, while extremely valuable, the classic advisory board approach has some significant drawbacks. They can be expensive, time consuming and recruiting payers who are willing to share their insights can be a challenge. This is a particularly challenging issue for global and regional teams who don’t have the payer relationships needed to convene highly effective boards. The key to success lies in the interoperability between key stakeholders of mHealth, technology, finance, healthcare workers and government. Careful thought needs to be put about how to create incentives that encourage range of stakeholders to engage.
The opportunities afforded by mHealth are set to revolutionize aspects of patient healthcare throughout the world, while mHealth is already improving patient outcomes for those prescribed a medicine. The merging of pharmacological and mobile technologies offers the industry significant commercial advantages, and adoption of technology in support of payer communities is one of many steps to success.
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