by Karen Coppock
Mobile Health 2010 started off with a bang today with more than two dozen speakers ranging from academics to medical professionals to NGOs and technologists....long breaks were scheduled throughout the day to encourage interaction and networking and the participants were just as interesting as the panelists.
The day started with discussions about behavioral science (e.g., BJ Fogg presented his behavior grid) moved into text messaging for health - I learned that more than 1.5 TRILLION text messages - or approximately 220 per person on earth - were sent in 2009 alone. This was an approximate 50% increase in the number of text messages sent in 2008. SMS is a very compelling platform to use for health education, monitoring and drug compliance. Unfortunately, Frank Bailey from AARP noted that as folks age and their health worsens, they are less likely to use text messaging (only 23% of adults over 60 years old with two or more chronic medical conditions used text messaging technology.)
Later in the day, the urgency behind mHealth was discussed. Richard Adler of the IFTF cited a depressing CBO statistic that if cost increases remain constant, health care expenditures will equal 99% of GDP in 2082. A less dismal scenario was that health care expenditures would only equal 50% of GDP in 2082. Either way, it is clear that innovation and alternative business models will be required moving forward and there is a great deal of hope for mHealth.
The main question remains - does it work? Will it "bend" the cost curve while also dramatically improving health outcomes. Much more work needs to be done to answer this question and there is a great deal of optimism that the answer will indeed be yes...