GSMA research highlights mobile operators' role in healthcare

Mobile operators are driving significant value for the healthcare industry by improving access, reach and quality to care across the entire patient pathway, the latest GSMA mHealth Tracker and Report showed.

The GSMA noted that the healthcare industry is undergoing a fundamental shift as demand from patients for services outside of traditional healthcare settings, such as hospitals and clinics, increases.

It said the mHealth market is estimated to be worth US$23 billion by 2017. Mobile operators are also developing ICT capabilities that enable them to serve the larger eHealth market, such as cloud-based medical records and imaging as well as in the provision of health information exchanges. This larger eHealth market is estimated to be worth up to USD$160 billion in 2015.

“Over the past few years we’ve seen mobile operators delivering end-to-end healthcare solutions which have typically been provided by the traditional systems integrator but there is clear evidence supporting operators’ emerging role in eHealth,” said Chris Locke, Managing Director, GSMA Development Fund. “Today operators have evolved and are best placed to deliver the solutions addressing the issues that the global healthcare industry faces, by lowering costs and making healthcare more accessible.”

The GSMA report “Integrating Healthcare: The Role and Value of Mobile Operators in eHealth” highlights, for example, that Orange, in conjunction with GE, is integrating the imaging needs of the most populous region in France, connecting more than 90 hospitals and 500 radiologists and covering a patient base of more than 12 million individuals.

AT&T has also recently signed large deals providing health information exchange services to the Indiana Health Information Exchange, which includes more than 80 facilities, 19,000 physicians and 10 million patients; as well as in private sector Baylor Healthcare system in Texas.
The GSMA noted, however, that as mobile operators continue to develop their capabilities to connect people and businesses in increasingly more sophisticated ways, they will face a number of challenges.

"Operators will need to build on their brands in order to differentiate themselves from existing ICT infrastructure providers. They will need to demonstrate their ability to deliver as new implementations have large financial and brand risks attached. They will likewise need to demonstrate the value that they bring to the eHealth industry and end consumers in integrating the solutions both inside and outside of hospitals and clinic settings," it said.