Healthcare providers in the U.S. will spend more than $4.4 billion on mobile point-of-care technology in 2015, up from almost $2.8 billion in 2010, representing an annual growth rate of 9.9 percent, according to a new forecast from Intel and research firm IDC Health Insights. The market will expand slightly more rapidly in other Western countries. Counting North America and Europe, spending will increase by 10.5 percent a year, from $4.4 billion last year to $7.2 billion in 2015, including hardware, software and IT services.
By 2015, clinical mobility should represent about 10 percent of the worldwide health IT market. Much of the spending will be on software and back-end support, not just gadgets. "Pervasive computing" is putting more demands on IT staff and infrastructure in, particularly in the areas of connectivity, performance, usability, manageability and security, according to Scott Lundstrom, group vice president of IDC Health Insights.
"A lot more time, a lot more money and a lot more energy goes into the back end than a lot of people think," Lundstrom said at this week's mHealth Summit. Intel and IDC took advantage of the gathering to release a white paper on what they call the "second wave" of clinical mobility.
"For 30 years, we've been talking about this market being right around the corner, and here it is," Lundstrom quipped.
"The next 10 years represent the second wave of clinical mobility. With the consumerization of technology and greater uptake of mobile devices by clinicians who want to use them as they care for their patients, mobile applications will evolve from providing basic view only to bidirectional flows of information enabling better decision making at the point of care and more synchronous communication and collaboration between care team members," the paper states.
Lundstrom noted that efforts to get to "meaningful use" of EHRs, establish accountable care organizations and comply with 5010 transaction standards (January 2012) and ICD-10 coding (October 2013) has held back some U.S. healthcare providers' investment in mobility. However, many organizations will turn to mobile devices for e-prescribing, computerized physician order entry and other elements of meaningful use.
Dr. Mark Blatt, Intel's director of global healthcare strategies, noted that mobile is changing the ways healthcare professionals communicate with each other. "Mobile is synchronous," he noted. "Most healthcare communication is asynchronous." That potentially could mean better coordination of care, but only if the payment systems are reformed. "We have to figure out how to reward synchronous communications," Blatt said.
If these issues get worked out, mobility could promote better decision making both at and away from the point of care, including in patients' homes. "You can think of this as the expansion of clinical interest," Lundstrom said. Point-of-care mobility originally was limited to a few thousand institutions, but now it is becoming available to hundreds of millions of individuals.
"I don't think we appreciate the patient's perspective enough," added Patricia Abbott, a nursing informatics specialist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health.
MobiHealthNews' coverage of the mHealth Summit is brought to you by Preventice.