Deloitte: “The MedTech industry has met its next growth engine – Mobile Health (mHealth)”

Deloitte Mobilising Medtech for mHealth

Along with the other big four consulting firms Deloitte’s mHealth focus has undergone some interesting transitions over the years (remember when they were pitching it as the most promising new revenue growth opportunity while Apple were creaming the profits off the poor old MNOs?) but their latest Lifesciences and Healthcare trend report by Glenn Snyder, Deloitte’s Medical Technology Segment Leader, pitches mHealth as the future for the MedTech industry (which is suffering from greatly reduced funding levels as the big MedTech firms plough into mHealth accessories to great fanfare).

mHealth Insights

Nothing in this report will be of any surprise to readers of this blog (we’re on record predicting that the convergence of medtech to mobile will define this decade just as Nokia did the last) but there are some interesting points made on the Deloitte website that are worth commenting on:

The global mHealth market was an estimated $10.5 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow 33.5 percent annually between 2015 and 2020 (Allied Market Research)

I think this is typical of the struggle the life science industry has with the mobile industry – the newest trillion dollar per annum industry (Feb 2010). mHealth applications have for a long time between ignored by male business executives but they have played a huge role as a key value proposition that have fuelled the rapid adoption of mobile by society.

To put a $10.5 Billion/year 2014 revenue estimate in perspective consider that the MMS market in 2013 was worth $46 Billion. Do you think you leave your phone on while you sleep because you don’t want to miss a MMS? Do you think the value of the brand of your phone is important because you’re going to be receiving a MMS on it? Do you think every mum in the country takes her phone absolutely everywhere with her because of it’s ability to receive MMS or because they want to be reachable by the people they love and care for?

I get that for some (mostly male telecom business people unfortunately) the value of mHealth isn’t obvious but the saving of a life with 5kbs of mobile data by the US state of Vermont wasn’t either

MedTech companies have the potential to benefit from innovation driven by mHealth solutions, but they should be thorough and deliberate when determining ways to capitalize on specific opportunities. Companies should decide whether to embrace mHealth at the corporate, business unit, or product level and identify ways to help create value for shareholders across the information value loop. In addition, it’s important for MedTech companies to determine which capabilities they should build versus partner for or purchase

I think this sitting on the fence advice isn’t going to be helpful. The auto industry appear to be further down the road from the MedTech industry (eg. look at how BMW/VW/Honda/Daimler have clubbed together to acquire Nokia Here for €2.8Billion because they realise their competition is no longer one another but rather outsiders like Google/Apple).

In my opinion any medtech company taking a business unit or product level only embrace of mHealth might as well close up shop as it’s just going to be a long drawn out slide to bankruptcy. Mobile is still the cannibal of cannibals but you might need the help of the Born Mobile generation to help you imagine the future

What is mHealth? mHealth is the utilization of mobile technologies to provide health-care-related solutions across the patient journey. It is a component of Connected Health, in which sensors, networks, standards, augmented intelligence, and consumer behavior are helping create opportunities to impact and improve the patient journey. mHealth aims to empower patients with information and management of their own health; promote outcomes improvement through enhanced decision-making; help reduce costs and increase access throughout the system, and supply data for predictive modeling of at-risk populations

I find this to be an incredibly vague definition of mHealth – try the definition I have suggested (March 2010) – and it widely misses the mark because a lot of mHealth is about services rather than technologies and a huge chunk of healthcare has nothing to do with any “Patient journey” eg. there’s a huge chunk of mHealth in education as well as those all important Clinician and Carer journeys that we need to consider.

Consumers using technology to manage their health are the “pull” force propelling many mHealth opportunities. As consumer and physician adoption rates for mHealth and other technology solutions continue to rise, and new uses emerge, the patient journey experience across the spectrum of preventive care and wellness, diagnosis, treatment decision, treatment, and high-risk care management is expected to evolve

I disagree that this is the significant pull force. I think the real pull lies in societies use of mobile tech to manage the rest of our lives and the situation that this creates when it comes to our expectations for how healthcare services should be accessed.

Tim OReilly Quote

mHealth’s disruption of the care continuum may trigger substantial implications and opportunities for the MedTech industry across the care continuum. Further, since mHealth enables the provision of care outside traditional settings such as hospitals and physician offices, it will likely drive associated growth in alternate delivery systems such as home-and community-based care. Companies should be thorough and deliberate when identifying ways to capitalize on potential opportunities

I can’t imagine who in a MedTech company is paying for the advice of Deloitte on the basis that they are making statements like “it will likely drive” and “be thorough and deliberate“. Presumably these execs have never seen a Clinician go “wow” as they see an Alivecor ECG for the first time?

My advice would be to immerse yourself in an event like the Exponential Medicine Conference next month in San Diego and talk to some Consultants about how much they want a wireless Lumify ultrasound probe from Philips to use with their iPad… we’re at an inflexion point for the MedTech market not following some general long term trend.

Make a strategic decision on whether to embrace mHealth and whether this will be driven at the corporate, business unit, or product line level

Isn’t this akin to consultants advising the music/camera/media industry a decade ago that they should decide whether or not to embrace mobile?

Target the diseases for which the organization wants to leverage mHealth solutions and identify how these solutions can provide value in the patient journey through data and results from studies that show these solutions work in real populations to help change behavior, engage patients, and improve outcomes

Clearly the customers of Deloitte consulting services live in an alternate universe to me but this advice might as well read “try working in an industry you have a clue about“. Surely there aren’t people being paid to work on medtech firm strategies that don’t even know what diseases they are targeting?

What thoughts did you have on reading the report?

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