Latest insights from McKinsey claim it’s a myth that mHealth is a game changer



McKinsey and Company Healthcares Digital Future

Myth 3: Mobile health is the game changer.

Mobile health—the practice of healthcare supported by mobile devices—is often hailed as the future of digital services in healthcare. Still, our survey shows that demand for mobile healthcare is not universal. It is therefore not the single critical factor in the future of healthcare digitization.

Of course, there is certainly demand for mobile healthcare applications, and it is strongest among younger people. Health systems should therefore create mobile solutions that target this audience—for example, apps that focus on prenatal health or those that could be classified as lifestyle apps. Beware of solutions that could have a lot of impact but are not of interest to the segment in question—digital applications to manage chronic conditions typically found in older people, for example

Perhaps there is no more reliable indicator that now is the time for investors to pile into the mHealth sector but this is incredibly poor advice and should be dismissed for the following reasons:

> This is a complete about turn for McKinsey eg. back in 2010 I was at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona listening to McKinsey telling an audience that the ‘Global mHealth Opportunity is worth $50-60 Billion.

> McKinsey have a terrible record with mobile eg. they told AT&T that cellphones would be a niche market reaching only 900,000 US subscribers by year 2000 (it actually reached 108 million by 2000).

> Claims that the demand for mHealth applications is strongest amongst younger people is completely contrary to the evidence (eg. Walgreens are generating $325 Million per month via their mHealth apps and the average age is 60+, Kaiser is also reporting 65+ average age of their mHealth services, etc) perhaps they’re confusing these with fitness applications?

> It’s very difficult for humans to evaluate algorithmic change but that’s critical to understanding the unthinkable opportunities that mHealth is making happen.

Note: Click here if your company would like personalised mHealth market insights.

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2 Responses to Latest insights from McKinsey claim it’s a myth that mHealth is a game changer

  1. I wonder if this is a case where McKinsey is only sharing a small part of what they learned in their research. We don’t know what questions they asked or the full range of the responses they received. I assume we would have to become paying clients to get the complete report or more tailored analysis.

    It appears that their recommendation in this particular post is quite narrow: segment your target market for apps. That’s the recommendation that I agree with. They don’t say anything about all the other mobile health possibilities or pitfalls — leaving that field open for you and other experts.

    • Hi Susannah,

      “become paying clients to get the complete report or more tailored analysis”

      I’m quite sure it’s all designed as bait to buy their in-depth research and you’re of course very welcome to spend your money however you like but the one time I had a look under the hood at the way they conducted a +$200,000 piece of research into the mHealth market I found the quality was abysmal and it also resulted in the complete opposite finding (back then they claimed that the research showed there was a Global mHealth Opportunity worth $50-60B and more than 50% of this is related to connected bio sensor devices):

      “What do think of these mHealth services?”, “Do you like them?”, “How much would you pay for them?”

      Appreciating transformation and disruptive change isn’t easy. The TedX talk by Jonathan MacDonald that I linked to above is well worth watching as it really highlights the difficulty and should assure you that it’s not going to be something that’s easily imagined by the answers given to clipboard wielding surveyors:

      This is of course made all the more difficult because for most of us the healthcare experience we endure today is still largely undocumented!

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