Adoption of mobile health technology could save the European Union almost 100 billion euros by 2017 as well as add 93 billion euros in GDP.

That is the key finding in a report developed by the GSMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers. It claims that using mHealth solutions would lead to three clear benefits - huge cost savings and improved lifestyles, as well as enhance "resource efficiency".

In terms of the former, the report claims mHealth adoption could lower the total annual per capita EU healthcare spend for patients by 18% or 537 euros, while the technology could reduce care costs for chronic conditions by 30%-35% through improved treatment compliance and remote patient monitoring. As for lifestyles, mHealth could provide 9.4 million people at risk of developing chronic diseases with access to earlier diagnosis, and enable 11 million chronic patients and nine million elderly patients to benefit from remote treatment and monitoring.

In terms of efficiency, the report argues that mHealth services could accommodate the treatment of an additional 24.5 million patients "without requiring more doctors or new healthcare facilities". It could also address the shortage of doctors across the EU by saving 42 million doctor working days in 2017, extending treatment to an additional 126 million patients.

Overcoming barriers

However, the study goes on to warn that "unless the multiple barriers – regulatory, economic, structural and technological – that prevent mHealth from being adopted commercially and achieving scale are removed", its benefits could be limited to about 5% of its potential in 2017. This relates to healthcare savings across the EU of just 6.6 billion euros instead of the aforementioned 100 billion euros and only 11.2 million patients of the potential 185 million would benefit from mHealth.

Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA, said that "much more needs to be done by regulators and governments within the EU to incentivise, encourage and drive the adoption of mHealth for the benefit of all the region’s citizens".