AstraZeneca and Vodafone collaborate on mHealth

AstraZeneca has unveiled a major new partnership with telecoms firm Vodafone to use mobile health (mHealth) services to improve health outcomes for patients with cardiovascular conditions.

The alliance will create new mobile and internet-based services to support patients through their treatment, with the aim of improving medication adherence and giving patients confidence to manage their condition more effectively.

The collaboration reflects a growing interest among pharma and telecoms companies to exploit the billions of mobile devices such as phones and tablets in use around the world.

Vodafone will provide the technology, infrastructure and expertise for the services, as well as the ability to capture data from a variety of sources. It is hoped this will improve overall engagement between patients and their Health Care Professionals (HCPs).

The vision is that patients will be given the option to use mHealth services as an integral part of their care, thereby empowering them to manage their conditions as part of their daily routine. Patients will have access to educational material and will receive support to manage medication and lifestyle changes, and track their treatment progress.

The project will be led by AstraZeneca’s ‘Intelligent Pharmaceutical Group’ (part of Global Medicines Development) which will co-ordinate implementation of the system with its local marketing teams. Services will be designed to work across geographies, and can be adapted to local regulations and healthcare systems.

AstraZeneca says it chose to work with Vodafone because of its experience in large scale mHealth services. Vodafone Director for Machine to Machine, Erik Brenneis, said: “Bringing together the best in connectivity with the best in treatment and education will create powerful and compelling outcomes for patients. AstraZeneca is a global leader in the mHealth field and we are delighted to work with them to develop these innovative services.”

Andy Jones, VP Pharmaceutical Innovation at AstraZeneca commented: “It is really exciting to see the progress being made in this area. This work is an excellent example of collaboration between AstraZeneca and Vodafone. Together we believe we are delivering something that will bring real benefit to patients in this important therapeutic area.”

AstraZeneca is a major player in the cardiovascular and diabetes therapy areas, where compliance and tracking conditions plays a vital role in maximising benefits of medicines.

But does mHealth actually help?

Despite the huge potential of such mHealth projects, there are clearly some major obstacles to overcome – not least building evidence that mHealth is actually beneficial to the health of patients. Research is being done to assess the growing number of mHealth projects currently underway around the world – many of them in developing countries – but the benefits of mHealth projects are not an automatic certainty.

Individual pharma companies promoting their own proprietary systems may well come up against resistance from patients if, for instance, they are asked to switch between rival systems, or if these cannot synchronise with electronic patient records in the future.

Other pharma firms are also active in the mHealth field. In December 2012, GlaxoSmithKline unveiled a partnership with Vodafone to use mobile technology to help increase childhood vaccination rates in Mozambique.

Pfizer has a long-term partnership with the mHealth Alliance, a multi-stakeholder group hosted by the United Nations Foundation, which is trying to promote the update of mHealth around the world.


Are mobile apps an opportunity for pharma? Not likely.



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