“The Role and Value of Mobile Operators in eHealth” is a new report by Kai-lik Foh, Mobile Health Program Manager at the GSM Association.
Despite a promising “The growing opportunity for mobile operators in mhealth” headline the report paints a very confusing outlook that seems to originate from the acceptance of a definition of mHealth “as a subset of eHealth” because that’s what is states on the WHO’s Global Observatory for eHealth website:
It’s surprising such a classic misunderstanding is being perpetuated by the GSMA (the trade association that represents the giants of this new trillion dollar industry) when we’re approaching a time when half of all internet users will never use the PC based internet, but it’s a natural consequence if you don’t appreciate mobile as the newest mass media and aren’t aware of the mHealth opportunities that arise from it’s 8 unique attributes.
mHealth is no more a subset of eHealth as TV is a subset of the Cinema or Radio
To my mind this report from the GSMA is similar to a forecast being made by the TV Broadcasters Association in the early days of TV stating that TV is a subset of Cinema because a big movie studio claims that it is, before going on to outline how much opportunity there is in broadcasting cinema films on the TV.
Obviously there was an opportunity in such content (just as you can force fit eHealth onto tiny mobile screens you can watch cinema movies made for the big screen on TVs) but as we saw with the development of TV holding onto this perspective would have ignored the bigger, more immediate and much more compelling and profitable opportunities that become apparent when you look to how the new attributes of this new mass media can be leveraged.
With the “tv is a subset of the cinema” mindset you obviously would have been blindsided by the emergence of those services that have made TV so successful eg. CNN’s 24hr rolling news, soap operas, talent shows, serialized adverts, etc.
With the “mHealth is a subset of eHealth” mindset I think it’s quite obvious you’re about to be blindsided by the emergence of the services that will make mHealth so successful eg. providers becoming more patient need focused, new possibilities to connect things that should be connected (my weigh scale, smoke alarm, care monitor, glucometer, biodata, etc), anytime anywhere access to health info and advice, caller ID based patient identification, etc