Fiona Graham, BBC Business Reporter, takes on mHealth…

Just watched this BBC video introducing mHealth as a means of bringing “Healthcare Home”

Whilst I fully realise that mHealth may be difficult to capture in a short video I’m disheartened by this as I don’t think it is going to help convince any provider/patient to even start getting interested…

Where’s the MOBILE technology?

The video starts with a sequence showing an 85 year old patient who is recovering after having had a total knee replacement aided by a Telefonica Research developed Rehabitica monitoring solution (click here to read my previous blog post referring to this) that involves a touch screen all in one PC that “shows him what to do”. We’ve been working on some research into this area leveraging a small tablet device (Samsung Galaxy Tab) and the video sequence really highlighted the key advantages of such user friendly mobile

Do seniors want webcams on the foot of their beds? Where is our respect for this octogenarian’s privacy? While we might all know that this little camera can be turned off many patients remain untrusting of technology. Above all else we shouldn’t be imposing ourselves so much on patients especially as they might find it hard to express reservations eg. concern that they might make a mistake that could authorise anyone on the WWW to watch them.

Design Challenge

A computer installed on the edge of the chest of drawers at the foot of a patients bed can present challenges and concerns that shouldn’t be overlooked even if they might seem insignificant eg “will I accidentally knock that expensive new computer over as I try to make it to the bathroom in the middle of the night?”.

Disruption of the patients lifestyle

The following image highlights a classic issue that i see with the implementation of home healthcare IT. Providers for one reason or another seemed bouyed with a sense of self importance of their own technology to such an extent that they often neglect to even begin to appreciate a patients personal preferences in their own home. Obscuring this senior patients personal bedroom TV (in order to install their touch screen PC) of this senior patient is typical of this lack of care.

When all you’ve got is a hammer…

Is a big 22in screen on top of the drawers at the end of the bed really the best solution? As far as I can see Telefonica’s R&D team is leveraging out of date technology and this image highlights this eg. the patient isn’t able to comfortably watch the screen while doing the exercises.

I would be surprised if school children couldn’t cobble together a more effective and user friendly solution with much cheaper mobile phone based equipment eg. Personal Display Glasses

Developer engagement

I fail to see how this is leveraging the massive mobile developer talent that one of the worlds biggest MNO’s is well placed to attract and spends millions trying to engage with. Windows Tablet OS is practically defunct so why not move on eg. if you have to stick to MS why not develop on Windows Phone 7 which is being implemented in the rapidly emerging tablet market?


The video depicts one of the worst use cases for Bluetooth devices I’ve ever seen. What’s the patient value in communicating to an adjacent PC? Wouldn’t a USB cable linked device be just as effective? eg it would not only avoid networking issues but also enable the provider to not have to deal with the BP monitor’s battery/power requirements.

Dongles in usb slots

The video then refers to “Bluetooth” but shows a close up of some USB sockets featuring a Movistar 3G Dongle and an inserted USB lead. In my opinion these crowded USB slots and the bulky form factor 3G Dongle don’t inspire confidence that we’re witnessing bleeding edge mHealth R&D…

Managing the needs of digital immigrants

In this scene Dr Josep Comín explains that the patients they are serving are not typically familiar with technology – indeed “many are even illiterate”. But then the video confusingly goes on to show this 85 year old patient already has another (presumably his own) laptop and is enjoying playing the Windows Solitaire game sat at his dining room table.

Orthopedic Post Op Rehabilitation + Alcohol Cessation Program

I’m thinking this has the potential to be insensitive and counterintuitive and doubt that it’s the most effective way to engage with senior patients about their abuse of Alcohol. If they’re not abusing alcohol it’s impersonal/offensive.

It’s sad that I could go on but there really is little redeeming in this mHealth video and I’m really disappointed as it represents a big missed opportunity for mHealth proponents to educate the wider market on the enormous scope of mobile technologies to improve outcomes, increase standards of care and reduce overall costs.

Ending on a positive note: A big congratulations to Sophie Powell for her first BBC News appearance. We’ve been collaborating with Sophie and her colleagues at Informa PLC for a couple of years now on the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit and her talent for bringing together industry leaders is having a great impact in helping this industry emerge. Don’t miss out on the 4 mHealth events she is planning for 2011…

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1 Response to Fiona Graham, BBC Business Reporter, takes on mHealth…

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