mHealth (also written as m-health or mhealth) is an abbreviation for mobile health, a term used for the practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and personal digital assistants (PDAs), and wearable devices such as smart watches, for health services, information, and data collection. The mHealth field has emerged as a sub-segment of eHealth, the use of information and communication technology (ICT), such as computers, mobile phones, communications satellite, patient monitors, etc., for health services and information. mHealth applications include the use of mobile devices in collecting community and clinical health data, delivery/sharing of healthcare information for practitioners, researchers and patients, real-time monitoring of patient vital signs, the direct provision of care (via mobile telemedicine) as well as training and collaboration of health workers.
In 2019, the global market for mHealth apps was estimated at US$17.92 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of 45% predicted from 2020 to 2027. While mHealth has application for industrialized nations, the field has emerged in recent years as largely an application for developing countries, stemming from the rapid rise of mobile phone penetration in low-income nations. The field, then, largely emerges as a means of providing greater access to larger segments of a population in developing countries, as well as improving the capacity of health systems in such countries to provide quality healthcare. Within the mHealth space, projects operate with a variety of objectives, including increased access to healthcare and health-related information (particularly for hard-to-reach populations); improved ability to diagnose and track diseases; timelier, more actionable public health information; and expanded access to ongoing medical education and training for health workers.