“the biggest challenge to driving adoption of mobile health technology is implementing services on a unified, global scale… …This is the virtual dilemma of mHealth, Mobile network operators are looking for scale, but healthcare systems are operating on a national, regional and local level. In the health world, there is no global scale. Healthcare is still in the authority of individual nations in Europe, for example, and that’s why it’s challenging taking mhealthcare to scale”
I’d recently commented on the “don’t upset the apple cart strategy” being taken by Vodafones mHealth team but these quotes from the Head of mHealth seem even more pessimistic about the mHealth opportunity at this British Mobile Operator giant.
I think it’s quite clear that Vodafone’s problem originates from it’s focus on the complex and technical and the lack of capacity it has to identify and capitalise on the mHealth opportunities that are in abundance all around them. In my opinion until it achieve some of this important groundwork it’s not only leaving money on the table but it’s also ensuring it has nothing with which to expand globally.
Of course this blog is full of examples of ways to achieve this but to make the point and show I’m not talking about rocket science here let’s consider how Vodafone continues to overlook one of the most straightforward mHealth opportunities the NHS has given it in it’s home market (an opportunity I explained in a meeting with Vodafone execs 5+ years ago):
1) In 2005 Vodafone reported that more than 250,000 of their UK subscribers had made a call to the 08454647 NHS Direct health advice line.
2) Since 2005 NHS Direct call volumes from mobile phones have continued to increase. In 2010 the service reportedly handled 6 million calls and the average call duration was about 10 mins. To give you an idea of the revenue opportunity this offers if these calls had been made on the Vodafone network (where 0845 calls are now charged at 14p/min but until 10/2011 were charged at 35p/min) it would have netted them £8.5 million (or £21 million pre 10/2011) in extra annual revenues.
3) In 2012 Vodafone still hasn’t recognised that the NHS Direct number is one of the easiest to sell premium rate numbers that their customers want to buy
4) In 2012 Vodafone still hasn’t preconfigured it’s UK mobiles/SIMs so that “NHS Direct” features in the default contact address book even though it’s own research in 2005 showed conclusively that many users of the service were repeat users and the biggest driver of use was convenience (as opposed to “out of hours” access, etc).
5) In 2012 Vodafone UK still does little/nothing to promote the NHS Direct number to customers
What’s it going to take before telcos with mHealth interests wake up to their role as landscapers rather than gardeners?