Last week after a read of the report summary I posted some of my thoughts about Pew Research’s Mobile Health 2012 paper and it’s been great to follow so many of the many interesting conversations that the report has started. Having realised “communications is not just for the communications department anymore” (n.b. we’re all media companies now) the reports author Susannah Fox is taking a read/write approach engaging with suggestions being made and may even be making some small edits.
I have massive admiration for researchers who appreciate this opportunity they have to engage with their audiences and reading through Susannah’s blog the value of one comment from a reader really struck me:
“I wanted to offer help if you need it on crafting the right question based on our experience (4M people online, 18% now accessing via mobile), that you could then generalize to your audience. Let me/us know! Thanks for helping us excel, Ted“
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.
Now contrast this with the silence we hear from the tech Giant’s on the other side of the mHealth industry as they bamboozle audiences with their various “platforms” and “2.0 solutions” while practically ignoring the massive opportunities they have to provide us with data…
I’ve had countless conversations with execs at the world’s biggest telco brands begging them to see sense in the opportunity they have to drive mHealth innovations and investment by simply sharing data that they already have in ways that will open the imaginations of entrepreneurs who are desperate to build solutions with them.
I could give you an example from practically any major mobile brand (there are plenty to pick from) but to make the point I’ll pick Nokia (the brand that defined the last decade) and Vodafone (the world’s biggest MNO by revenue), as these telco giants have a rich history for us to analyse as they practically created and defined today’s mHealth market:
Throughout 2006 Nokia’s Wellness Diary Application was getting more than 100,000 downloads a month but it never shared this information publicly. I think it’s because of Nokia’s failure to communicate such key adoption metrics (and the reasoning it used internally to justify this) that we’re at a point in time where the majority of consumers think Apple invented Apps (even though the iPhone itself wasn’t launched until 2007 and the App Store didn’t arrive until 2008) and many of the mobile operator execs will even state publicly that they don’t think there’s global scale in mHealth…
In 2006 Vodafone published some research together with the UK’s NHS Direct that showed that as many as 960,000 calls were being made in 2005 from mobile networks to the service – a mHealth business opportunity that was worth more than £3 million per annum and was reportedly growing by an average of 4.6% per month.
The nurse advice was being provided by the NHS (and consequently paid for by the British tax payer) while all a mobile operator had to do was connect the call and charge their customer £0.35p or £0.50p per minute (the vast majority of which was profit as there was no promotion or marketing costs involved).
Seven years on and while successful mHealth services are to be found everywhere Vodafone’s Enterprise mHealth strategy is still waiting to generate a ROI and is currently being restructured following more U-turns than you’d see in a Dukes of Hazzard movie…
mHealth brands need to realise information is the gold of our times. If you can’t see the opportunity bend over backwards to share the data openly (or with trusted research organisations like Pew) so your fans can help you make sense of the opportunity that you’re a key part of the solution to.