One of the challenges facing healthcare digitization is encouraging citizens to get involved in taking care of their own health. In this regard, mobile applications can be an effective incentive tool, as they are easy, attractive and convenient. Furthermore institutions are working to promote a healthy lifestyle that begins with each citizen’s active engagement in his own health.

A paradigm shift is currently taking place in the healthcare model, and thanks to mobile health (or mHealth) patients are playing a much greater role in managing their own health. In the context of the latest edition of the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2016, the Mobile World Capital Foundation’s mHealth team organised the seminar “Motivating behavioural change through mobile technologies,” at which various industry experts discussed how mobile devices can promote a change in patients’ behaviour. Antoni Gual (Addictions Unit of the Hospital Clínic, Barcelona), Geoff McCleary (Digitas Health), Jim Rattay (Bennet Group) and Ross Taylor (Publicis Healthcare Europe), agreed that the resources exist and are increasing, so the challenge now is to convince citizens to take advantage of them.

During the seminar some studies were presented illustrating this rise in mHealth in citizens’ daily lives. Among the significant figures: 66% of Americans would use mobile applications to manage their health, and 20% of smartphone users have one or more applications on their devices to monitor or manage their health and wellness. The market offers more than 165,000 apps related to health, health insurance, health information, women’s health and pregnancy, specific diseases, fitness, lifestyle, stress, and diet and nutrition, among other topics.

The efficacy of mHealth has been demonstrated in cases such as the treatment of addictions (e.g. tobacco, drugs and alcohol), diseases such as diabetes, problems such as excess weight, and sleep disorders, for example. In fact, new concepts established in this sector are also spreading to society at large, such as autoquantification: using technology to obtain quantitative data on aspects of people’s daily lives, such as food, moods, etc., and patient empowerment.