A Telecom Asia and Telecom Europe article by John C Tanner entitled “mHealth Needs Interoperability” reporting from the mHealth discussion group at last weeks Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong propels several fallacies about the mHealth market that I think deserve to be contested:
“Mobile health apps and services won’t take off without the involvement of various players from healthcare and insurance companies to governments and the patients themselves”, experts said Thursday“
Having just got back from the mHealth Summit where I met personally with literally hundreds of entrepreneurs who are working around the clock on exciting new ways to use mobile technologies to improve the health of society you’ve got to ask yourself is there really anyone who thinks this transformational change is going to happen on its own?
“Clive Smith, Director of Global Operations for the Mobile Health Alliance, agreed, adding that lack of interoperability was a major barrier for mHealth uptake, be it between different healthcare systems between hospitals and government departments, or even between individual apps… …There are 9,000 health apps available today, but hardly any of them talk to each other or share data,” he said“
In my opinion this is incredibly misleading. Whatever inoperability may exist between healthcare systems has nothing to do with the major initial mHealth opportunities eg. SMS, use of Caller ID to connect remote patients with informed carers, IVR, Mobile Web, mHealth Content or Tools (eg Health Wallet) etc.
If anything you could argue that the mHealth market is far less fragmented than existing IT systems. Thinking mHealth app’s inter-operating is the issue ignores the reality of how embryonic this market is and overlooks the glaring facts that only a tiny minority of the population even has an electronic health record – never mind a mobile accessible one!
UPDATE: @jranck (who’s profile states he is a consultant with the mHealth Alliance – link to blog) decided to use Twitter to suggest this post to be a whine for the “sake of whining” and challenge my credibility on the basis of this post, requesting readers “stop paying attention”. Here’s the twitter stream, join in or let me know what you think in the comments:
@3GDoctor “Let’s not propel the fallacy that mHealth lacks interoperability wp.me/pdYEo-1Of”
@jranck “3G Doctor blog shows us why we shouldn’t pay attention to him http://bit.ly/hqX3Hf”
@3GDoctor “what is it about the post that makes you think this?
@jranck “interoperability is going to be a key for mHealth/eHealth to strengthen health systems in dev world”
@jranck “whining about MHA for the sake of whining and not using commonsense leaves you with little credibility on this matter re. interop”
@3GDoctor “What interoperability issues are stopping care providers using SMS instead of letters & stamps to communicate with patients?”
@3GDoctor “What interoperability issues are stopping care providers making information available on mobile web optimised websites?”
@3GDoctor “I think it’s inertia & lack of appreciation of the newest mass media (mobile) not interoperability that’s holding innovation back”
@3GDoctor “if mHealth industry insiders are citing “interoperability” issues I wouldn’t be surprised if it discouraged those we need to engage”
@3GDoctor “let’s continue this in the comments thread beneath my article as it’s not suited to the limitations of Twitter wp.me/pdYEo-1Of ”
@jranck “dev country context you have to recognize existence of supply chains, HRIS, HIS, etc. if u neglect interop you get non-syst of US”
@3GDoctor “before questioning my credibility: in a “dev country context” the 9,000 mhealth apps Clive refers to are completely irrelevant”
@3GDoctor “non system of US occurs because patient isn’t the paying customer. Most US interop arises from stuff that doesn’t even exist in BRIC”