Zero to One Million in One Month! Is KP’s mHealth initiative the fastest ever adoption of a digital health service in history?

Wow… a fascinating video interview at HIMSS of George Halvorson, CEO of Kaiser Permanente, by Matthew Holt, founder and senior contributor at Health 2.0 News, reveals the massive step change care providers can expect when they engage with patients on their mobile phones:

Within one month of the launch (noted previously here) they’ve managed to get 1 million patients (of a total patient population of 9 million patients) to log into their mobile accessible patient portal.


The electronic medical record of all of our patients all of the time, real time medical information available to the Doctor in the exam room and at the point of care is extremely important and we have all of the information on our patients all of the time and the Doctors can follow up with patients, we track care, we’ve got systems to identify the care groups and plans for patients and we can follow up with the patients to make sure the plans are followed. We can check to see if the prescriptions are refilled we can interact with the patient and make sure refills happen when they need to happen so it’s an interactive systme that we could have done before we have the electronic information…

…our physicians love (the change), if you asked them to go back to a paper based Electronic Medical Record they would all quit and go work somewhere else where they have one. We would literally lose the entire medical staff because they now love just knowing about patients. They don’t have to guess anymore. They used to have to guess, remember things, they had memory joggers and all of a sudden now they’ve got all the information and it’s available conveniently and in an accessible form. And Doctors like that a lot. Doctors like making informed decisions and a medical record informs a decision.

…the world (of healthcare IT) is going to change faster in the next 2 years than it has done in the last 20 years…

…we have two alternatives the first is rationing, and that’s a horrible horrible thing, and the second is reengineering care to make it more affordable and better… …if everyone else is rationing and we’re reengineering that’s bad for Kaiser Permanente. We need to get everyone to reengineer. So the goal is to get everyone reengineering so we don’t have to ration…

…that (mobile) app is really hard (for other care providers) to do because of fragmentation. Kaiser Permanente’s ability to do comprehensive complete agenda that’s patient focused means that even if they can beat us on price we’ll beat them on functionality because we’re vertically integrated and we have all the data…

Do you have platform plans?: …we’re not likely to do that in a mode that gives anyone access to our software it’s not going to be a collaborative process but what is likely to happen is one of the reasons we’ve got a lot of people at HIMSS is that we’re walking around looking at and for the next best thing and if we find the next best new thing – and we’ll find things – we’ll incorporate them. We’ll bring them into our network. We take care of 9 million people – that’s bigger than 135 countries. We’re big enough to bring the next best thing into our system with our functionality so we’re looking for other people with good ideas and we want to bring those ideas into the system in terms of having them come into our system and codevelop that’s not going to happen because patient data security is so important to us. We’ve got a bright shiny line around our data and we don’t want anyone else getting inside that wall we’re bringing stuff in. (But) it doesn’t have to be invented here…

My Thoughts:

It’s great to see KP’s mHealth strategy paying off so effectively as they execute on their plans rather than continue to persist at attempts to be “Sifting through the hype” like we still see with so many of their competitors.

It’s strikingly clear that patients prefer Mobile over PC for interacting with their Healthcare provider: Compare this 11% of patients who used the service on their mobile in the first month to the patient adoption that resulted from the NHS’s $22 Billion national programme for IT that resulted in only 0.13% of eligible patients visited the healthspace portal on their PC over a 3 year period.

The KP approach to mHealth should also provide a good lesson to the UK’s NHS who are currently very confused about smartphone app possibilities. Patients will engage but you’ve got to offer them something they want and topping the bill of that in survey after survey (and proven yet again by this success story at KP) is communication with their Doctors and care team.

It’s clear that it’s going to be through adoption by patients that leaders are going to emerge. Talking about being the healthcare equivalent of the “Visa for Banks” is interesting but I’m unsure whether it’s valid to think of Visa as a “one time system” or whether the US Healthcare market will go for a “one time system” – especially as the focus here is so firmly on provider ownership of patient data.

I get the feeling that having a “bright shiny line around our data” might seem a great idea but be extremely difficult to enforce in practice as it will inevitably be challenged by patients who may (quite rightly) feel it’s actually their data.

Now that KP have shown other care providers how to get patients adopting digital tools I’d expect the competition to want to emulate this model very quickly. I imagine the phones at the US office of the Microsoft HealthVault team will be ringing off the hook next week: “Do you know that thing you showed us and we told you it wasn’t something we thought our patients would want? Well it happens that our CEO got a demo of KP’s mobile service at HIMSS last week and we need that implemented here by next week! OK?”

I really hope the US telecom brands seize the massive opportunity they have to capitalise on this and move to support the momentum that KP is building here for the mHealth industry.

> Imagine the impact if Verizon zero rated the KP.ORG website when patients accessed it on their network.

> Imagine if the CTIA got it’s members to agree to zero rate this content so no patient got bill shock as a result of visiting their healthcare provider portal.

> Imagine the impact if app stores enforced extra strict regulation and vigilence for KP named/branded apps and mobile adverts to help ensure patients could trust the provenance and authenticity of KP mobile content.

> Imagine if the big device makers (eg. Apple, Nokia and Samsung) installed shortcut keys and settings on their new devices to make it all more discoverable and easier for KP patients who buy new smartphones to access the content for the first time?

* NB I’m specifically not comparing this with the enormous overnight adoption rates of mHealth we’ve witnessed when widespread emergency situations (eg. in Japan’s Earthquake/Tsunami millions of patients went online with their mobiles when the voice channels were inactivated for the public, in the UK H1N1 Swine Flu Hotlines were called by 1million+ callers, etc) develop as I think it’s hard to appreciate the impact of patient limitations/desperation in these instances whereas what we’re seeing with this adoption trend is through KP’s focus on patient preference.

*** *** UPDATE 31st JULY 2015 *** ***

MobiHealthNews: Kaiser’s 2014 Annual Report reveals 4.9M members use Kaiser’s online health management platform

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40 Responses to Zero to One Million in One Month! Is KP’s mHealth initiative the fastest ever adoption of a digital health service in history?

  1. […] > Kaiser Permanente’s CEO has announced that their new mHealth initiative has been used by 11% o…. […]

  2. […] probes) and the lack of focus on adding mobile connectivity to digital clinical tools (eg. connectivity to medical records) or mobile informed access to the advice of clinicians (eg. 3G […]

  3. […] Can the NHS not learn anything from the successful patient engagement from Kaiser Permanente’s…? They’re likely to exceed 3 million mobile connected patients (of a total of “only” 9 million) by this summer! […]

  4. […] is littered with digital services that failed as a result of a lack of connection between carers. So when you see the record adoption levels that can be achieved when we use mobile services to bring… it’s concerning that this is so far from the radar of the digital creatives that the […]

  5. […] Mobile based pedometers are already being used by millions of Japanese senior citizens and they’ve come preinstalled on Raku-Raku (easy to use mobiles designed for Japans senior citizen market) mobiles for years. Guess what it’s useful, but the challenge isn’t getting the technology it’s developing the services. In the US where the vast majority of patients don’t have an accessible electronic health record or the ability to communicate electronically with their Doctor we’ve got a lot of more fundamental challenge to contend with first – thankfully providers like KP are doing something about this important first step. […]

  6. […] caution on mobile phone use in hospitals I think we again have here another over anxious warning. Kaiser have made 9 million patient records accessible via mobile and within the first month over a m… but we’re not hearing about any leaks or patients sharing this information on Facebook […]

  7. […] If you need evidence look to the record adoption levels that are being reported by mHealth leaders eg. Kaiser Permanente who recently enabled their patients to accessible their records and communicate wi…. […]

  8. […] market leaders that are also comfortable taking this proactive approach to doing business. As mentioned before Kaiser Permanente is without doubt one of these leaders and this article shared by Ted Eytan MD […]

  9. […] In a sign of the rapid rate of change in the mHealth world the event is now talking about baby steps but it’s sponsored by Kaiser Permanente – the mHealth innovator responsible for what is probably the world’s fastest ever adopted digita… […]

  10. […] the research for a moment and check out what’s happening in the real world. Reading about the record adoption rate of Kaiser Permanente’s mHealth services is a good starting […]

  11. […] patients either. Its a shame as I really hoped the phenomenal success and adoption levels of KP’s mobile accessible service patient portal in the USA (a strategy that could of seen nearly 7 million signed up to HealthSpace by July 2012!) would have […]

  12. […] o to a million in 1 month: KP’s mHealth initiative is the fastest ever adoption of a digital h… Google announces Mobile First Strategy (Feb 2010) Share this:ShareTwitterEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  13. […] Unfortunately for readers of the report “offerings today remain in perpetual pilot stage” probably suggests there’s not going to be a mention of the massive mHealth success stories that are already being shared widely eg. the million plus patients in the USA that have used KP’s mHealth service in it’s first m…. […]

  14. […] and introducing modern effective replacements for inaccessbile and paper based alternatives eg. the mobile first strategy that’s paying dividends at Kaiser Permanente, replacing appointment letters with SMS reminders, […]

  15. […] uncertain about this compare the categorical failure of the NHS’s HealthSpace with the immediate success of KP’s mHealth initiative (which holds the record for the fastest ever adoption of a digital health […]

  16. […] It always surprises me to hear people talk of “quick-profit” hopes when referring to mHealth ambitions. For an industry full of bloat and middle-men we’re talking here of innovations that are mostly filling in the gap in patient information (eg. Doctors sending video content to their patients mobiles) and providing more modern ways of providing care offering patients more convenient access to info and advice (eg. Kaiser Permanente’s mHealth portal). […]

  17. […] In my opinion the NHS is still only waking up to the opportunity to engage with private media companies and it hasn’t even begun to start to imagine never mind explore the possibilities that mobile network operators can open up for them. […]

  18. […] Don’t underestimate the amount of time the “adoption” phase will take… mHealth is setting incredible new records but it still took over a decade and billions of $’s of federal government funds to get to a stage […]

  19. […] Don’t underestimate the amount of time the “adoption” phase will take… mHealth is setting incredible new records but it still took over a decade and billions of $’s of federal government funds to get to a stage […]

  20. […] – the world’s first major Healthcare brand to announce a mobile first strategy (which led to the fastest ever adoption of a digital health experience – a striking contrast to the flop that the NHS had with their PC/eHealth era HealthSpace […]

  21. […] This ability to copy things is exactly what’s driving major healthcare firms that have taken a “Mobile First” approach to innovation like Kaiser Permanente to roll out engaging mHealth experiences that are setting new benchmarks in rate of adoption by patients. […]

  22. […] Obviously patients have a very different level of trust and interest in mobile engagement with their care provider and evidence for this can be found by looking at situations where the app has been provided by the care provider and we see much greater levels of engagement eg. Kaiser Permanente found more than 10% of their total patient population used their mobile app in the…. […]

  23. […] innovators are already creating solutions to these challenges eg. look how KP have added connectivity with carers to make their Mobile first strategy engaging, look at how Alivecor has linked it’s embedded ECG tech with cloud based storage so […]

  24. […] There’s no evidence of long failing pilots at companies that are taking a “mobile first approach” eg. us at 3G Doctor (launched in 2006 and steadily growing) or Kaiser Permanente (a big healthcare provider that thanks to it’s mobile first approach now holds a global adoption record for a digital health service). […]

  25. […] to be one of the most obstinant privacy advocates in the main stream media. I vividly remember the colossal expensive failures of NHS patient record services like HealthSpace or the countless other times when the healthcare industry would design things around outcomes that […]

  26. […] to be one of the most obstinant privacy advocates in the main stream media. I vividly remember the colossal expensive failures of NHS patient record services like HealthSpace or the countless other times when the healthcare industry would design things around outcomes that […]

  27. […] I think the slidedeck could be improved by the addition of some mHealth market success stories eg. the incredible rate of adoption of Kaiser Permanente’s mHealth services by patients (KP is the first major healthcare brand to take a mobile first […]

  28. […] In the UK we’re rapidly approaching a precipice when the healthcare market will wake up to the opportunity to let patients interact with healthcare system data using their own mobile devices. We’re optimistic that this is going to be even more enthusiastically received by NHS patients than the run away success story reported following the adoption of a Mobile First Strategy by Kaiser Permanente. […]

  29. […] The need for a guiding vision of the type of future you are trying to use information technology to create is critical for healthcare workers who are increasingly disillusioned by those over promising Healthcare IT benefits – especially when they can already see that this mobile first strategy is setting new benchmarks for p…. […]

  30. […] Another problem I can see developing is that the data created from this chip in a pill might just make the care provider more powerful than the drug company. What if Kaiser Permanente – the worlds first big healthcare brand to take a mobile first strategy – introduced this in all drugs for patients with condition Y. Within a short space of time you could imagine that the provider would be in a position to tell the drug manufacturer that their med wasn’t actually as effective as their clinical trial evidence claimed, that they now have a data set which is larger and more convincing than their clinical trial data… …oh and from now on they won’t be using their product with patients as they’ve found generics that get better results… …now data like that could turn around the fortunes of a care provider (no wonder they talk of having a “bright shiny line around our data and we don’t want anyone else getting inside that wall&#8…). […]

  31. […] > If you are still not providing them with access to their health information – in 2017 they’ll be going somewhere that does. […]

  32. […] We’ve noted in the UK that there is this same lack of appetite amongst patients to manage health information however Kaiser Permanente have clearly shown that when it’s twinned with a mobile first strategy AND the ability to access the advice of their care providers it’s a runaway success. […]

  33. […] Here’s the world’s first major Healthcare Brand to take a Mobile First Strategy now openly sharing their thought leadership with the authors and offering to help them by providing insights from their precedent setting experiences engaging via mobile with millions of registered patients. […]

  34. […] to find healthcare information look to Kaiser who have taken a mobile first strategy that is setting new benchmarks for patient engagement (is it any surprise they’re already talking with the Pew Research report’s […]

  35. […] why public healthcare initiatives should take a mobile first approach like the one that’s proving to be so successful at Kaiser Permanente in the […]

  36. […] > We’ve already seen how the decision by one of the world’s leading healthcare brands to take a mobile first strategy has led to the fastest ever adoption of an electronic patient experience. […]

  37. […] Laurie is unaware of the success story that Kaiser have on their hands as a result of their Mobile First strategy (in case you think these are services just used by young […]

  38. […] what the survey is supposed to be highlighting but I wonder if the respondents are familiar with the record breaking levels of patient engagement that happened when Kaiser Permanente (a 9 million member US health plan provide with 167,000 […]

  39. […] we’ll get some more incredible numbers shared by Kaiser very soon (click here to check out the announcement of Kaiser’s incredible mHealth success that was share…) and it will be impossible to make an argument against taking a mobile first approach to health […]

  40. […] I often hear critics saying that introducing technology takes Doctors away from the caring, human 1-2-1, relationships that Patients need but this is the reality in 2015 after the NHS spent more than $20 Billion on the National Program for IT. If the NHS simply went Mobile First that handwritten letter would be a message on the Patients mobile. We recently did a survey of Patients attending the clinic and couldn’t find a single Patient who didn’t have their mobile with them at all their Doctor appointments. This is consistent with the published findings at scale eg. in the US Kaiser Permanente Patients set a new world record for the rate with which they started usi…. […]

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