The key reasons behind the advance of the global digital health market are the widening applications of mobile health (mHealth), rising adoption of smartphones and tablets, and increasing government support for such solutions. From its value of $73.1 billion in 2017, the market is projected to grow at a 21.1% CAGR during 2018–2023 (forecast period), to reach $223.7 billion in 2023. Digital health refers to the use of mobile devices and information technology to offer various healthcare services.
When segmented by technology, the market categories are telemedicine, healthcare analytics, electronic health record (EHR), and mHealth. Of these, mHealth led the digital health market in 2017, with a 31.5% share, which is predicted to rise to 59.1% in 2023, at a 33.5% CAGR during the forecast period. This would be due to the increasing support of governments across the world for the adoption of this technology and surging awareness of people on the subject.
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As per the European Commission, due to the fact that mobile phones are the most widely used devices to connect to the internet, the number of mobile applications has surged sharply in the last 5–6 years. With the shift of people to such telecommunication devices, the download rate of healthcare apps is also increasing. With such apps, EHRs can be speedily sent and diagnosis and medical advice received over the internet or cloud, which saves patients the time and cost spent on visiting hospitals or clinics.
Another key driver for the digital health market is the rising requirement for remote patient monitoring solutions, due to the lack of access to healthcare in the rural areas of emerging nations and an increase in the geriatric population. For instance, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports that 36.6% of the European population would be above the age of 60, by 2050, rising considerably from 20.3% in 2000. As the elderly cannot always visit a doctor, owing to physical weakness, remote patient monitoring is essential for them.
Globally, North America led the market during the historical period (2013–2017), owing to its advanced healthcare and IT infrastructure, surging medical spending, and growing usage of digital healthcare solutions. Asia-Pacific is predicted to observe the highest CAGR, of 26.6%, in the digital health market during the forecast period, due to the increasing geriatric population, prevalence of chronic diseases, adoption of smart phones, government investments, and grants, and improving healthcare infrastructure.
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Therefore, with an even greater penetration of IT devices, digital technologies will continue to make their way into the healthcare sector.
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The increasing healthcare cost is among the major factors that are driving the growth of the telemedicine market. The healthcare cost is increasing across the world, which is a major concern among patients as well as healthcare providers. The expensive new technologies and drugs, high administrative costs, growing physician fees, and high cost of goods and services are some factors contributing to the rising healthcare expenditure. Telemedicine, on the other hand, offers services that are cost-efficient, in addition to maintaining and improving the quality of the care provided.
Thus, we see that chronic diseases will be one of the major growth factors of the mHealth market in the future. As per a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, dated July 2017, 30.3 million people in the U.S. already had diabetes, while 84.1 million more were suffering from prediabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, if not treated. Other common chronic diseases include cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer. With mHealth apps, doctors can help patients manage these diseases via remote monitoring and e-consultation.
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