The mHealth opportunity to give patients recommendations & information NOT choices & data

Today I had been all set to talk at a Total Telecom mHealth Breakfast Briefing in London alongside Thierry Zylberberg, Head of Healthcare at Orange/France Telecom and Keith Nurcombe, Managing Director at O2 Health/Telefonica, about the mHealth opportunity to give patients recommendations and information as opposed to choices and data.

Unfortunately the organisers cancelled it so I ended up squeezing a bit of research into my day. Reading a Mobile Industry Review article about a great mTicketing company I found a very good example of the most basic mHealth need that exists amongst adults who expect to use their mobile to access services and have no reservations about using it for health services:

(Mobile Operators) are too busy rearranging their calling price plans to squeeze an extra 16p out of me every month to recognise that, last night, at 7pm, I’d have paid them £50 to have been able to locate and book a dental appointment there-and-then. The operator would also have been able to take a commission from the dentist too. But no

This is actually a very typical type of request we get at 3G Doctor. Normally (ie after the medical history questionnaire ruled out other potential complications etc) we’d have a registered Doctor respond to the patient supplying them with some good advice about managing pain, bringing down an infection, etc, together with the contact details of Dentists in their area offering emergency services. Without the need for a video consult we’d waive the fee pleasantly surprising the patient by giving them with the choice to go with the advice and retain £35 in their account (to use next time they want to video consult with a Doctor).

I think this example highlights the way these two mobile operator mHealth units have remained completely unaware of the bigger and more straightforward commercial opportunity they have with their 28 million and 17.9 million UK and Irish subscribers (respectively). It amazes me that instead we have public statements like these:

Customers didn’t value Orange Brand when associated with a Healthcare offering” Thierry Zylberberg, Orange/France Telecom

O2 Health’s managing director, Keith Nurcombe, doesn’t believe in the term mHealth; which he dismisses as a buzzword

As O2 Health moves closer to the launch of it’s high stakes emergency pendant strategy one look at the abysmal experience on the O2 homepage portal (and the following image is taken of a device owned and used by a senior) shows how they continue to miss the big commercial opportunity as they ignore the unmet health needs of their millions of customers:

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