Asia's mobile tech-driven healthcare market seen at $7 billion

Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:45am EST
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By Tan Ee Lyn

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Mobile technologies will be increasingly deployed to enable people in Asia to monitor and manage their health, with the market expected to hit $7 billion by 2017, an industry official said.

In parts of Europe and the United States, diabetics can now have doctors monitor their blood sugar levels by punching daily readings into their mobile phones and doctors can provide answers to expectant mothers via short message services (SMS).

Jeanine Vos, who heads the mobile health unit at Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), said such technologies are finding their way into Asia.

GSMA represents nearly 800 mobile operators around the world and 200 other mobile-related companies such as handset makers, software, media and Internet companies.

"We foresee that market opportunities can reach $7 billion by 2017 (from under $500 million now)...We are really at the start of a take-off," Vos told Reuters in an interview.

The figures were derived from a study conducted by GSMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers and will be released in full in December. Fifty-five percent of that amount would involve health monitoring services and 24 percent, diagnostic services.

Companies that stand to gain from the expansion of mobile technologies for healthcare purposes include mobile operators, device manufacturers, software developers and healthcare providers, Vos said.

Companies already providing such services include France Telecom's Orange, Japan's NTT Docomo and India's Apollo Hospitals.   Continued...