Innovation Observatory has been working with Cambridge University on a report commissioned by China Mobile into the use of mobile communications for medical care around the world. The wide-ranging, 120-page report is available free from here. It examines how mHealth is currently used, and how advances in technology and evolving business models might extend the reach and scope of mHealth applications in the future. One of the issues analysed in the report is the relationship between commercial drivers and clinical effectiveness for different types of mHealth applications. Many ideas for mHealth applications may be effective and efficient; many others may be interesting but offer no real benefits over established ways of doing things. Healthcare traditionally requires robust, scientific proof of effectiveness and efficiency before new interventions are sanctioned, but is this burden of proof appropriate in all cases? Might there be instances — for instance in countries where health-care systems are rudimentary, or for applications that are clearly unlikely to do harm — where the market can decide whether an application is efficient and effective? These questions are being played out around the world as each month brings forward innovative ideas for how to utilise the power of the mobile network and the mobile device for healthcare purposes. Some of the applications that might have the greatest potential for good in both developing and developed economies require strategic support from the established healthcare system if the benefits are to be realised: the concept of the “public good” is significant here, particularly when considering public health applications such as disease tracking, epidemiological research and targeted communication of lifestyle-change and illness-prevention messages to populations. The key to realising the public good is to understand the value chains involved, in the context of specific healthcare delivery systems, country-by-country.