Healthcare spending in Australia has more than doubled over the last four and a half decades, and as the population ages, demand for health and aged care services will continue to rise. As a result, the Australian health system is struggling to deal with increasing cost and demand pressures, plus a shortage of skilled healthcare workers.
“eHealth” is seen by some as the most significant development in healthcare since the advent of modern medicine, as mobile technology takes a more prominent role within our healthcare systems. As governments look for ways to cut the increasing cost of health delivery, mobile and health are connecting to shape a new global paradigm in healthcare delivery.
In 2012, the Australian Health Department addressed the challenge by launching their National E-Health Strategy, with the intention to transform the way information is stored, shared and used across the Australian health system. The last few years have seen health-related consumer mobile applications begin to appear in the market place, such as Apple’s iOS HealthKit which allows users to track their heart rate, calories, blood sugar levels and cholesterol, as well as share their blood pressure results directly with their doctor.
However, most other efforts in health application development are taking place in the overall wellness category, with diet and exercise applications accounting for the majority. A report released by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics includes analysis of over 40,000 healthcare apps on the U.S. Apple iTunes app store. The results suggest that these applications have limited functionality, with most simply providing information to promote healthy living.
Kareem Tawansi from the Solentive Technology Group recognises a significant opportunity to develop health-related cloud-based offerings and applications for iOS, Android and eventually Windows Phones. “We can accumulate a lot of data about ourselves on our phones which can potentially drive a shift in healthcare delivery,” explains Tawansi. “The response to the Government’s E-Health Strategy has been slow, however it’s early days. It’s certainly a good idea.”
As the average age rises and governments move towards an environment where consumers, care providers and healthcare managers can access and share health information across geographic and health sector boundaries, mobile technology will take a more prominent role within our healthcare systems. The ability to manage and track our own health will shift the focus to consumers, allowing people to take a more active role in the protection and management of their own personal health.