The mobile healthcare market in Asia is growing and expected to reach $7 billion by 2017, according to a study by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) and PriceWaterCoopers.

Jeanine Vos, who heads the mobile health unit at the GSMA believes that such technology will further penetrate the Asian market.

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

As noted in previous posts, the GSMA spans more than 220 countries and connects connects nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem.

Some of these companies include handset makers, software companies, equipment providers, Internet companies, and media organizations.

Mobile phone technology can be used by doctors to help make diagnoses and monitor the health of their patients. The technology can help treat chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. There is also demand for wearable devices, for example those that can be used to track patients with Alzheimer’s disease. According to Vos:

“For Alzheimer’s disease patients, they can be followed around the city and people can also contact emergency services, call the call center…solutions that help the elderly live independently for longer in their own homes.”

Barriers still exist, however, in convincing governments as well as clinicians in various regions.

“The healthcare challenges and needs are highly diverse across the region. A key challenge is … in (achieving) adoption by governments and medical professionals. To reach scale and adoption, what will be important is that governments and regulators across the region promote policies that enable healthcare reform to be supported by mobile technologies.”

Source: Reuters