Current global mHealth opportunity is $50B

By Brian Dolan
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According to recent report from McKinsey & Company, "opportunities" in the global mobile healthcare market are worth about $50 billion in 2010. The consulting firm pegs the US mHealth opportunity at $20 billion, or nearly half the global market. McKinsey estimated the market opportunities after conducting a survey of 3,000 consumers -- 500 from each of the following countries: Brazil, USA, Germany, South Africa, India and China.

"A large proportion of the nearly four billion people using mobile phones struggle to gain access to good quality and affordable healthcare, both in emerging markets and more developed societies," according to the firm's release. "Mobile healthcare as a sector aims to bridge this divide, by utilizing mobile phone technologies to deliver healthcare (voice, SMS, images, video, connected devices)."

McKinsey had a creative way of determining the market opportunity: It ask the survey respondents questions about four mythical but on the whole feasible mHealth services:

PhoneDoctor: customers call to speak with a qualified physician for remote diagnosis & advice
Drug Delivery: customers order medications over the phone for last mile delivery of authentic drugs within 24 hours
Health Watch: a SIM embedded biosensor watch that monitors vitals, and is connected to emergency services
Med Reminder: customers receive periodic SMS reminders to follow a prescribed medication routine.

McKinsey concludes that nearly 50 percent of the opportunity is in connected bio-sensor devices, which represent about $30 billion of incremental opportunity globally. Almost 70 percent of the respondents were extremely or very interested in at least one of the mHealth products described and willingness to pay for the services was also high across all geographic groups, according to the firm. Not surprisingly, Indian and South African consumer are the most interested in mHealth and US respondents were most interested in PhoneDoctor (60 percent) and HealthWatch (35 percent).

Alessio Ascari, director in McKinsey’s Milan Office and leader of the survey concluded that  “Mobile healthcare is clearly an opportunity to improve healthcare, manage costs and at the same time drive growth. We believe it is something that mobile operators, hospitals, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, technology players, health insurance companies and governments too should all be looking at closely.”