T+ Medical have (since 2002) been developing mobile interactive health diary applications and secure real time remote monitoring/management systems for patients with long-term health conditions and patients who are participating in clinical drug trials. Only 12 months ago they took on an undisclosed investment from Vodafone Ventures – the corporate venture capital arm of Vodafone Group.
Rob Halhead, “Director Long Term Conditions”, talked of the problem being addressed by quoting statistics from the Healthcare Commission Managing Diabetes report from 2007 (2.3 MB PDF) which estimated that 42.5% of the UK Diabetic Population are out of control, and that the typical annual care plan for a long term care patient provides as little as 45 mins of managed care… leaving us the question of what’s there to serve the patient for the other 8,759 hours?
I find it fascinating to hear from mHealth solution providers that are attempting to tackle the “continual care” market. In our efforts looking at this space we’ve found that one of the major problems with compliance is that it’s not just as easy as giving a patient the tools and reminding them to use them, it also requires careful design and an appreciation of the need for motivation – particularly as patients are likely to become disinterested with an application that is insensitive to their other activities, hard to engage with, offers a clumsy user experience, isn’t personally rewarding or that they feel nagged or pressurised into using.
In a previous post I’ve made comparisons between the UX needs of the mobile continual care services being similar to those served by the dash display in modern automobiles – ie. outside of the annual service the driver is left in control with the dashboard offering visual indicators for fuel economy, service intervals, oil levels etc. The next generation of hybrid vehicles hold even more promise here eg. the Ford Smart Gauge in dash monitor that features an “organic display” that educates and encourages a driver to adopt a more efficient and environmentally concious driving style:
I really hope Vodafone Ventures investment team is adding value to the T+ Medical team by helping them to access to Vodafones links with the mobile developer communities through its various Portals, Betavine, Widget and the cross platform 360 initiative, as I’m sure there are lots of lessons to be learnt from the successful social networking applications (eg. Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Fring etc), widgets (eg. AskMoby – weather guide) etc. that could improve the Think Positive patient experience.
Taking a look at screenshots (below) from the current T+ “Think Positive” Health Diary application it’s clear that there is lots of opportunity for improvement, indeed most of the current functionality could be handled with even more security through the use of a run-of-the-mill WAP browser with no install, never mind an advanced mobile browser such as Opera or Skyfire.
Whilst I’m sure the T+ team are working on the next generation of the product, the presentation didn’t allude to any of these so I thought it might be interesting to list some ideas that I think might help them to move this product up a gear:
1) Build a version for use on smartphones… after all if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing well, as a 24×7 health tool it offers incredible value for money, and the cost of a smartphone is much less than the cost of treating the conditions that arise from poor compliance.
2) Fully automate the Bluetooth transmission with securely paired monitoring devices
3) Develop a user experience that doesn’t just exist within the Think Positive application. This might be just a simple widget suggesting anticipatory interventions at appropriate times eg. preventative and motivational messages:
4) Add more comprehensive monitoring of patient health and well being eg. diet (cameraphone food journalling), activity levels (easily done since T+ Medical acquired Vivatec this year), use of Video (eg. to deliver advice on infection control, needlestick use etc), feedback and advice on treatment effectiveness (eg. short/long acting insulin), social networking and games (to maintain interest/participation levels)
Taken further these suggestions might make a good chance to win the latest mHealth developer prize of $50,000 being offered by the Vodafone/UN Foundation mHealth Alliance and gives me an idea for next years event… how about a mHealth user experience competition. No screen shots just live demos (using TV-out to the big screen)?
This blog post is part of a series of reviews from the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit. Click here to get the full review.