A fascinating Entrepreneur Magazine article by Ericka Chickowski features an interview with “Mobile Matchmaker” Don Casey, CEO of the West Wireless Health Institute.
Whilst not wanting to detract from the thoroughly commendable initiative that the Institute is undertaking, in the article I’m surprised to hear Don suggesting that the healthcare and wireless industry’s are speaking different languages and that there is an industry here that hasn’t yet been born. Whilst it might be a cool thing to say what we’re doing is innovative and completely new, the facts are successful examples of mHealth are already all around us – we just need to look.
Maybe I meet with too many clinicians who just get the opportunity for mHealth or maybe I’m just lucky enough to be avoiding the small minority who aren’t utilising mobiles to be more effective, but I can’t help think that the pioneers in the use of telephones and mobile data technologies have always been medical professionals whether they be on battlefields, teaching hospitals or in rural communities.
Even if we overlook the massive popularity of pagers (the precursors to our mobile networks) that still remain in use in the Healthcare industry the world over, it’s a fact that mobiles have always been invaluable tools that are massively appreciated and utilised by the vast majority of professional healthcare workers. With Medical Schools introducing mobile devices to the educational experience I don’t think this is a trend that is going to go away either.
You can find some interesting examples by watching this video of me presenting at Mobile Monday Amsterdam where I explain how some of my first memories were of the important relationship Doctors had with coin operated payphones (what are they???) back in the 1970’s, continue a bit further and you’ll hear me explaining how my first digital mobile phone (back in 1995) was bought for use as an out of hours medical emergency device. The potential for mHealth may not be fully exploited but it is most definitely not something new.
Maybe this $100 million funded not for profit business incubator needs to take a step back from the technology and take heed of a few of the fundamentals of medicine eg. “If you listen to the patient they will usually give you the diagnosis” (Sir William Osler), because I get the feeling that they’re going to find that the most powerful sensor that we’ll ever be able to put on a phone is already here and within the reach of billions of patients via the mobile web: