Avea’s 3G Video Medical Call Centre shows us the money!

It feels like I’m forever being asked by the Mobile Operator community “where’s the developed market operator business model in mHealth?”. Thankfully the latest 3G Value Added Service (VAS) innovation by Avea in Turkey (a market widely known for innovation in Mobile Marketing and VAS – learn more by following this fascinating mobile consultant) shows exactly how a mobile operator can utilise one of its core technologies (3G Video Calling) to add value to customers lives.

While operators across the rest of world um and ah about how 3G Video could be used (eg. a trial involving 8 3G mobiles here) or join up with the various mHealth Alliances in the hope that someone will tell them how to do it or just to ponder why this can’t/won’t happen here first, Avea has taken action and through a partnership with a leading Turkish Healthcare company it’s got a brand new service out there in front of customers. Whilst I have no doubt the learning curve will be steep isn’t it obvious that “you’ve got to get wet to learn how to swim”? …and just imagine the market insights they’ll be able to build upon to ensure their service remains financially viable and ahead of any competition.

With the risks and regulatory issues met by Acibadem all there is left to do is ponder the business model and that age old question: “Can this make Mobile Operators any money?”

With some back of the envelope numbers I’m going to try and show exactly how much a familiar USA and UK mobile operator (i’ve picked Verizon and Vodafone as their customer ARPUs’ and subscriber numbers were easiest to get hold of) might already be leaving on the table by not launching their own Medical Video Call Centers and subsciption services:

ARPU with Avea Turkey = 16 TYR/Month
Avea AloDoktorum Subscription = 5 TYR/Month

Additional subscription level customers are prepared to pay for membership of “Avea Doctor” = 5/16 = 31%

Verizon USA has an ARPU of $51/Month
Customers willing to pay 31% of this would be worth an extra $15.81×12 = $190 each per year

Vodafone UK has an ARPU of £21/Month
Customers willing to pay 31% of this would be worth an extra £6.51×12 = £78 per year

If Verizon or Vodafone could convert the equivalent proportion ie. 3.7% of their subscribers (Avea is expecting to recruit 100k customers before end of 2010, from a total subscriber base of 12.7million) this would be worth in real terms:

Verizon USA Doctor = $190 x (3.7% of 91.2million) = $641 million per year

Vodafone UK Doctor = £78 x (3.7% of 17.4 million) = £50.2 million per year

Ignoring the obvious advantages this service would offer Mobile Operators who want to establish more loyalty and trust with their customers AND the possibility for it to help them sell a multitude of other services, this is an uncompetitive VAS subscription revenue as the service isn’t competitive with other content types (eg. no ones’ going to drop their mobile TV subscription to get a Doctor call advice line) and it’s relevant to those who aren’t currently so keen to pay for premium VAS’s (eg. young parents, carers, senior subscribers).

With dwindling ARPU’s looming I’m betting that it won’t be long before mobile operators start demanding that mHealth VAS’s contribute to their profits… after all you can’t really leave this much money on the table!

PLEASE NOTE: Yes I know my calculations are approximate and there are a lot of other factors at play – but there are also lots of reasons why such a service is likely to prove even more popular in the UK/USA eg. greater senior % in populations, higher mobile adoption levels, higher mobile penetration, greater affluence, familiarity with health call centres eg. NHS Direct, etc etc

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9 Responses to Avea’s 3G Video Medical Call Centre shows us the money!

  1. James Smith says:

    Hi David

    This is an interesting development, and I think you’re estimates of the potential revenue upside make sense using comparables. But what about the costs faced by the operator?

    I understand from your earlier post that the cost to the Avea consumer is 5YTL (£2) per month and 0.2 YTL (8p) per minute which is very reasonable. But to set up a 3g call centre (I don’t know a UK operator that has one of these) and staff it with qualified health advisers is I expect quite costly.

    Are there any pulished data on the costs of setting up NHS direct I wonder as a source of comparison? I would anticipate UK call centre costs, fully loaded for employee costs, office, equipment etc for unqualified health care personnel to be of the order of £20 per hour per full time employee, which is 4-5x the Avea consumer cost. So either the costs in YTL are substantially cheaper, or the model is highly dependent on a number of people subscribing (i.e. paying the monthly fee) but not actually calling up.

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