It’s been nearly 4 years since I last spoke at a Mobile Monday event (5th June 2006 in London – Watch the Video Here) and it’s great to see the signs that the Mobile Community is now much more ready to accept the roles for the mobile phone to play in the care process.
The things that haven’t changed include:
> By and large Mobile Developers still think the 3G Doctor service “isn’t innovative” and we think this is a very positive sign that we’re doing things right. It would be very easy to talk of the complexity of our service, to hype what we’re enabling and it’s impact on patients lives, but it’s much better if we can establish genuine understanding of what we’re doing through everyday language and simple explanations because we’re hoping that most of the customers we reach will actually consider themselves technophobes.
“Anytime anywhere access to the Video Advice of a registered informed Doctor” and “The ability to create, manage and share your important medical information” seems to make non medical technical people think we just use 3G Video Calling and are unaware of the complex patient interviewing and security technologies required or the continuity of care/medicolegal challenges that we have had to meet.
The things that have changed include:
> The imagination of the audience has been stretched – personally I feel this is largely due to their first hand experience of well designed smartphone apps (like those found on the Apple App Store).
> New faces have joined the mHealth community including health insurers, online patient communities, operators, handset manufacturers, software developers and the all important Healthcare professionals. This event highlighted this really well with speakers who were Care providers, Doctors, Patients, Designers and Technologists.
I was invited to talk as someone who had developed and launched a mHealth service, but I was discouraged from making it “sales pitchy” as I was told that the audience tended to dislike this type of presenting style.
So I told the story from the very beginning, explaining my early awareness of the importance of telcoms in Healthcare (aged 3 years old) and how I got started using a mobile phone way back in 1995.
I then explained why we thought there was an opportunity in using 3G to deliver mHealth and the issues and challenges (and often outright laughter!) we faced when we presented our plans to the Mobile and Healthcare Industries who at the time could see little synergies between their services:
Feedback from the Mobile Industry included:
“This could possibly work in the Developing World where they don’t have healthcare infrastructure”
“But Patients and seniors will never use Smartphones or Apps”
“You’ve got it all wrong about 3G – it isn’t about Healthcare it’s about Girls, Gambling and Games”
“Mobile Health will only ever be a niche – our market is mass market things like Mobile TV”
Feedback from the Healthcare Industry included:
“Mobiles will never be able to do the things you seem to think they will”
“No one will ever buy a 3G Video Mobile”
“Mobiles will never be powerful enough to do the computations required”
“There’s not enough money in Mobile, no one will pay for mobile services”
“Doctors need to be convinced of how Video Doctors can act safely in an informed capacity and offer continuity of care”
“Doctors needed to be convinced that they are consulting in an environment which is fully charted and insured”
So what has happened?….
…well the noughties turned out to be the Nokia Decade, convergence of hardware to the mobile made Nokia not only worlds biggest calculator, music player, clock and computer manufacturer but it also enabled the global revenues to grow until Mobile became the newest trillion $ industry. The Apple App store sweetened the taste of all this when it convinced sceptics that a Smartphone could be customised to serve differing users needs and the Text Haiti campaign raised over $25 million in a few days from simple SMS showing the power of micropayments/microgiving…
I summed up with an explanation of how the 3G Doctor service works and a demonstration of a patient doctor 3G Video Call with the audience and Dr Fiona Kavanagh MRCGP.
In a last comment I mentioned how we’d done this all whilst remaining profitable and having an open approach to collaboration, publishing details of our work, partners and roadmap and goals on this blog and welcoming members of the group to open talks with us to see what we could achieve together.