#mHealth for Universal Health

In recent days, The CIU-Working Papers series initiative has sought to highlight and put on the table for discussion essential elements for the digitization of the health sector in Mexico. For example, through the use of wearables for health and the path towards the implementation of an interoperable platform to materialize a universal electronic medical record.

The latest installment called “mHealth: Ensuring a healthy life and well-being for all” (https://bit.ly/2ZlCkir), is oriented towards mobile health or mHealth and its importance for the provision of health services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mHealth solutions can help achieve global health coverage by making it accessible to remote populations and communities with health service deficits.

mHealth refers to the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and wearables for patient monitoring, medical practice, and public health. These solutions have been implemented by 83% of WHO member countries, which have at least one associated mobile health initiative.

Implementation Cases in Mexico. The mHealth market is robust and growing such that 19 million Mexicans have downloaded applications related to health, wellness and fitness, a figure that corresponds to 22% of the country’s application users. On the supply side, 86% of the health apps available on distribution platforms are private initiative developments, while 14% derive from public bodies.

The IMSS Digital application is one of the most successful samples of mHealth since the public initiative that has almost 9 million downloads.

In the context of the health crisis, examples of mHealth implementation are notifications of potential exposure to Covid-19. In Mexico they have recently been adopted at the local level by the governments of the states of Puebla and Coahuila.

Smartphones and Connectivity: Essential Links. The widespread adoption of smartphones in our country, especially mid- and high-end (71% of the total), is a catalyst for the use of mHealth solutions. At the end of the first half of 2021, there were 127.7 million smartphones in the hands of Mexicans.

The challenges to accelerate the use of mHealth are many. The lack of connectivity that afflicts 48% of households, 22% of hospitals and 57% of other health providers stands out.

Barriers and challenges for an mHealth ecosystem. Likewise, effective interoperability is required that allows health providers to exchange the information generated by health apps, as well as to define that this same information is, effectively, related to health parameters. Taking care that devices such as smartphones or wearables are not defined as medical devices, such an action would negatively impact their provision and adoption.

On the other hand, it is necessary to develop public policies that include the improvement of the digital skills of the population and the promotion of the use and development of mHealth applications.

In this space, some of the findings and recommendations of the referred document were outlined to strengthen the mHealth ecosystem. A thorough reading is recommended to authorities and agents involved (patients, doctors and health service providers) since crucial elements are specified that serve as a guide for the achievement of a health system fully supported by digital solutions.


Ernesto Piedras

Director General de The Competitive Intelligence Unit

Competitive intelligence


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