mHEALTH: Challenges, hopes and doubts


There are many hopes and at the same time, doubts related to the mHealth development. Here MEP Michal Boni explains the reasons why…

Firstly, mHealth development is part of the digital revolution. It means that all aspects of the functions of the healthcare systems can be changed under the conditions related to the digital tools. On the one hand, the new opportunities in the area of genetic research and the possibilities to use the molecular insights into health and diseases – open the new ways for diagnosis. On the other, many new devices, wearables, applications can give us the possibility to monitor the real state of health in the real time. It is the background for adequate, fast intervention. Both: better and deeper diagnosis and faster interventions create the framework for the shift paradigm in the healthcare area. This is the transit from the model of reaction on the diseases to the model of avoiding of the diseases. One of the important parts of this shift paradigm is oriented on changing the minds of patients – to build the possibility for taking the self-responsibility for their own health via knowledge accessible by apps. It is easy for some groups, but difficult for many people. So, there are hopes and doubts.

Secondly, what is the key factor of this healthcare shift paradigm? All diagnostic efforts are focused on the individual dimensions of the state of health of the individual person. It establishes the personalisation of the service. This is the special added value to the healthcare system, which can give us the cost savings (better organisation of the work, proper therapies based on the real evidence etc.) and the stronger patients’ satisfaction. A whole range of mHealth devices and applications are user friendly. Of course, for the effective functioning they require better infrastructure fast internet, future 5G for transferring data and information in the milliseconds, and proper High Performance Computing Centers. In addition, they require standarisation of solutions and certified high quality of measures. It is the hope for the future, but it is also the threat: if the technology and infrastructure is or in the shoot time, will be really ready?

Thirdly, the new model of healthcare is focused on patients’ expectations and future, possible benefits of personalised medicine. So it needs framework for the new model of relations between the patients and doctors. There is no possibility to make this shift paradigm in the medical area without doctors. There is no danger for keeping and improving the human dimension of the relations between patients and physicians. The human factor is fundamental: for interpretation of the same phenomena and the results of the state of health monitoring. It is also important for building the personal climate between two sides of the process for cooperation during the time of sickness and the time of taking the self-responsibility by some patients. Of course, all those – require the trust and the digital and medical literacy. The education and promotion are very much needed, as the only way to avoid weaknesses and doubts – and develop mHealth solutions.

Fourthly, this new model of the healthcare system is based on the Big Data, on the possibilities to process the data, collect, transfer and share those data. At last, it requires the privacy protection and the security – as a basis for the trust. The rules need to be clear, transparent at that area. It is important, if we want to avoid many doubts. The problem of the privacy protection and the security at the area of healthcare is important because of the sensitiveness of those data. Anonimisation and pseudonimisation of the data, together with full encryption from the starting point to the end of the transferring of the data – are the guarantees of the safe development of the new mHealth solutions.

Finally, the shift paradigm is needed for the better future, which during implementation processes requires the cooperation between all stakeholders. Why it is so important? Better understanding of the mHealth as a game changer for the whole healthcare system and the strong involvement of partners can lead to success. In Europe the healthcare area belongs to the Member States competences. This shift paradigm in the health system depends on common efforts of all European countries. And depends on the cooperation of all partners: patients, physicians, managers, decision and policy makers, researchers, business. If so, some kind of the action plan for stakeholders is required. We need to develop opportunities and hopes, than to create still new doubts.

Michal Boni


European Parliament


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