mHealth: too much to blog, too little time

As always the question is where to start? Perhaps with the FT headline ‘Powerhouse’ UK leads Europe app development, says research, a piece by Daniel Thomas on some research sponsored by Google & Tech City UK. A full version of the report is here. Key findings are that the UK:

  • Has become the largest tech hub in Europe for app development;
  • Received a third of revenues generated from mobile software in Europe last year;
  • Is the base for almost a fifth of European developers of smartphone applications;
  • is believed to be the world’s second most important tech hub after the US;
  • Has about 8,000 companies involved in app development, employing close to 400,000 people.

Apparently almost half of app developers and designers in the UK generate most of their income from apps, although a fifth generate no income from apps at all but rather see them as a hobby.

Staying with the FT, Prof Mike Short has kindly also pointed this editor to another article entitled Pay your cheque in by taking its photograph on smartphone which describes Government approval for a secure system for faster cheque clearing using smartphone-taken photographs. The possibility to use the technology to secure transmission of unstructured medical data from the field is obvious

Sticking with finance one item longer, for the academic year 2014/2015, the European Investment Bank Institute has launched three new EIBURS sponsorships. EIBURS provides grants to university research centres working on research topics and themes of major interest to the Bank. Sponsorships, of up to EUR 100 000 per year for a period of 3 years, are awarded through a competitive process to interested university departments or research centres associated with universities in EU, candidate or potential candidate countries. Two of these may be of interest to readers:

  • Demographic change in the EU, the oldest-old and the need for innovative models of more efficient elderly care
  • Impact of microfinance on financial and social inclusion in Europe

A measure of the maturity of mHealth has to be how well it handles conditions that are commonly encountered around the world and, if well managed by good monitoring, can be lived with for a very long time, perhaps the most obvious being diabetes. It is therefore disappointing to read iMedialApps’s report that though numerous, available diabetes apps lack key features.

Another measure of mHealth maturity is whether regulators are refining their activity to focus on the high risk areas, and deregulating the low risk one. Last week’s announcement from the FDA suggests that that process is well underway in the US with their decision to deregulate further medical device data systems (MDDS), and some medical image transfer systems. Mobihealth news has more details.

At this time, it’s hard to avoid some mention of the EC’s mHealth Green Paper consultation which closes on Friday. DHACA’s members have worked hard to produce a 20 page response, available on the website to all members (membership is free), who are welcome to use it for additional submissions as long as they credit DHACA. There seems to be surprising unanimity on the benefits of mHealth, although the 3G doctor has pointed out that an EU think tank has been dismissive of the exercise. To quote:

But EU funding for innovative mobile health technologies and the “digital skills” of medical staff and patients is not justified: since the benefits of mobile health do not arise at EU level but in national health systems and economies, all the costs should also be borne by the respective heath system.

To this editor this misses the point as the Green Paper only touches on EU funding (and then just for research) – far more important is creating a common regulatory environment that balances patient protection with encouraging innovation across the whole EU. In addition there is this editor’s strong contention of the need for a measure of cost-effectiveness to enable apps and drugs to be compared on an equal footing. This is a topic that GP Online kindly picked up recently too, covering the proposal for the UK to extend NICE’s remit to include medical apps.

That way all of the EU will benefit, specifically from medical app development & deployment.

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