Image | Álvaro Millán
What will it take for all European citizens to enjoy standard access to mHealth solutions? Mobile health, which encompasses medical practices carried out through the use of mobile devices, is a branch of medicine whose full potential has still not been realised. Even though a year ago the European Commission launched the consultation for the Green Paper on mobile health, in which it encouraged all stakeholders to share their points of view on the main obstacles for its adoption, there are still many advances yet to come.
In order to get the ball rolling on the mHealth solution implementation process in Europe, the Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation, through its mHealth program, is backing the mHealth Task Force campaign. This global mobilization, structured around 3 actions, represents an appeal to stakeholders from sectors like medical care and technology, but also to patients and citizens, so that, working together, they can accelerate the adoption and deployment of mobile health in Europe.
For citizens to be able to use their mobiles or tablets to receive medical assistance, connect specialised sensors and devices, and share their data with doctors, caregivers and medical systems in a safe manner is an advance that will usher Europe into the society of the future. It is still necessary, however, for Community politicians and institutions to get down to work on the drafting of laws that will make this possible.
The actions around which the mHealth Task Force campaign is structured are the following:
1. Change the conversation
At this time the debate on mHealth solutions is plagued by mistrust and apprehension. Risks affecting the security of patients’ data and non-certified practices are all too common, hampering the standardised implementation of mHealth. As happens in the most traditional spheres, however, situations of abuse can be identified, addressed and prevented in the interest of transparency and effectiveness. For this it is essential to change perceptions about mobile health, replacing mistrust with the confidence that we are advancing towards a field full of opportunities.
There are applications on the market certified by reputable centres and institutions that, in practice, can dramatically improve the well-being of patients suffering from chronic diseases.
2. Work out mHealth’s overall value proposition
The lack of evidence —the absence of verifiable records and results demonstrating the effectiveness of mHealth— is the main obstacle when it comes to getting the European Union to approve this new way of practicing medicine. Instead of focusing on this point, the mHealth Task Force proposes taking into consideration the results that would be derived from the implementation of mHealth: quality of life for chronic disease patients, peace of mind for their relatives, patient empowerment through information and overall public health-related benefits.
3. Support an enabling environment for innovation
The mHealth market will increase in the coming years, and when it does so it will positively impact Europe’s population. But in order for these solutions to be implemented without risk, the creation of an appropriate legal framework is needed. The rules and regulations governing mHealth today are not clear, nor is the current definition of mobile instruments designed for medical care, above all to differentiate them from those which are not (calorie counters, fitness devices, and even informational mobile apps). Mobile health in Europe needs a legal standard similar to the guidelines that have already been approved in the United States, a pioneering country in the adoption of these types of solutions.
Let us mobilize Europe for the implementation of mHealth: joining the mHealth Task Force can contribute to the well-being of millions of patients.