The cost-effectiveness and the Return of Inversion (ROI) of any technology can be easily measured. Now, social impact can be monetized as well. This is especially useful for mHealth entrepreneurs, as it has been proven by the Innovation Unit at Hospital Clínico San Carlos (Spain), which efforts are aimed at bringing global social progress through mobile health. Their findings show that for each euro invested on mHealth, the community gets three euros of social impact in the worst-case scenario.
This public-funded Smart Health Laboratory, based in Madrid, designs, develops and implements innovative solutions in the healthcare sector. When they started to develop indicators to measure their efforts in mobile health, the team realized that they were not quantifying social change nor the impact on patients, although these two were the main goals of their project.
The question that arose then was if social transformation could be measured accurately to present these figures to potential financers. In the same way, enterprises use the ROI method to evaluate the efficiency of a number of different investments, the incubator of health ideas embarked on using and developing SROI, a methodology that fits with their social objectives.
Thanks to this innovative approach, sHealthLab now is able to report on how their health mobile applications are beneficial to all the stakeholders involved. "The aim of health institutions is not obtaining economic benefit, but there is no point in wasting money: it is necessary to invest well", Dr. Julio Mayol, director of the Innovation Unit says.
In summary, their method consists in placing value on all the interrelated factors that affect the project: reduction of doctor visits, not-lost working days, etc. The end result, after using the sROI method, depends on the equation of immediate success of the mHealth application -which counts as an output-, and the consequent improvement of society achievements (outcomes), minus the assumed scenario in case the investment project wouldn't have been carried out.
There are currently more than 35,000 unique, health-related apps available in various app stores. That includes everything from fitness and diet tracking apps to clinical decision support apps for doctors. Within that group we estimate that about 10,000 apps available today are intended for use by medical professionals.
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