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Mobile Health: a new frontier suported by the EU

The European Commission launched on the 10th of April, 2014 a public consultation on the challenges, issues and opportunities of mobile health for European citizens.

Mobile Health (mHealth) is seen as a new form of e-Health. This one relies on information and communication technologies to improve health products, services and procedures.

The purpose of this mHealth Green Paper (télécharger), already announced in the Action Plan “e-Health” is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to express their views on the challenges and issues related to the development and evolution of technologies firmly linked to the health.  Its specific objective is to improve the health and the well-being of Europeans through the use of applications for mobile devices i.e. Smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices.

Undoubtedly the benefits arising from these mHealth applications are several and varied. Indeed, they allow to:
– put the patient in control of his/her health, giving wider independence and helping to prevent health problems
– establish a more efficient healthcare system by offering large cost-savings
– multiply opportunities for innovative services, start-ups and economy of “apps.”

Among these apps we can find, as examples, those designed to measure vital signs such as blood pressure, to remind patients they should take their medicines and to administer insulin for diabetics by transmitting control signals to the pump.

On the market there is already a huge amount of apps of this kind: nearly 100,000 devices are available on multiple platforms and it is estimated that by 2017, 1,5 billion people worldwide will use mobile health apps. In addition, a prospective study considers the investment in mobile health technology a guarantee for increasing EU GDP up to 93 billion euro in 2017 due to the improvement of citizens’ health condition.

Obviously the use of this technology does not only bring benefits but also potential risks. It can, in fact, be problematic concerning the security of the services offered, as well as personal data processing and the need to bear “CE” markings.

The EU is already financing actions in this area and it will also fund many other mobile health projects in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. The new EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020 will fund this type of projects under the priority area “Personalising Health Care.” This priority area aims to be a source of strength for citizens through mechanisms encouraging self-management of health and disease, health promotion and disease prevention. The total budget of this priority area is € 549.3 million euro for 2014 and € 537 million euro for 2015.

In any case, consumer organizations and patients, health professionals and organizations in the health sector, public authorities, developers of apps, providers of telecommunications services, manufacturers of portable devices, individuals and all interested parties are invited to participate in this consultation by responding to specific questions by 3 July, 2014.


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