Is Cancer Research UK taking a “Mobile Last” strategy?

When you track major companies that have taken a mobile first strategy it’s quite incredible the success stories that you’ll be aware of eg. Google – the worlds’ biggest internet Company (it took them only 3 years from launch to dominate the global smartphone OS landscape), Kaiser Permanente – the world’s first major Healthcare brand to announce a mobile first strategy (which led to the fastest ever adoption of a digital health experience – a striking contrast to the flop that the NHS had with their PC/eHealth era HealthSpace portal), the American Red Cross – a multibillion dollar charity (following the earthquake in Haiti in Jan 2010 they collected more than $25 million through text donations with donations reaching $0.5 million an hour during NFL games).

Mobile Last

Firms that aren’t prioritising mobile are becoming increasingly rare but an email invite I got to volunteer to develop an App highlights for me that this idea of putting your best people on mobile hasn’t quite got through to some very big and important charities:

Why we need you: Cancer Research UK is looking to design, build and release a smartphone app to display our daily news updates. The app will be the first of its kind for the charity and as such we are very excited about it! We are the largest independent charity in the world and we’re looking to find new ways to engage people with worldwide progress in cancer research and treatment, including the vital work our scientists are carrying out. The app will draw content from our news, blog, podcast and social media feeds. We anticipate that it will attract a broad audience, from cancer patients to health professionals. The challenge we face is making this app as engaging, intuitive, aesthetically pleasing and simple to use as possible. We want to have the best news app in the market and we would love for you to help us with this new project. What will I be doing? You will be solely responsible for designing our Smartphone app based on our Social Media teams requirements and will be tasked with working out how users will interact and navigate through the stories. Our internal development team will then create and release the app. We would like you to follow our specific requirements and Design an icon for the app. Design a splash screen whilst loading. Design wireframes and user journeys with the assistance of our Social Media and Digital teams. Design the layout of each of the pages. These will be used by our development to create the app.

To put this into perspective Cancer Research UK is a charity that spent £98 million last year raising funds, has 561 high street stores and it’s asking for a mobile app developer to volunteer to come into their £42.50/ft² central London office to develop the Android and iOS app they want.

Now I’m not doubting they’ll get someone and I hope they somehow do but isn’t this an indicator of the low importance they’re placing on their mobile strategy? And where did they get the idea that good app developers are going to be content to volunteer to just punch in code?

What would a Mobile First Cancer Research UK look like?

In my opinion Cancer Research UK should have someone who understands mobile running their entire fundraising team as I’m quite sure that they’d quickly realise there are much bigger opportunities to be had than building a couple of apps for smartphones. Before I even thought about these I’d probably start with:

> Further development of their excellent mobile optimised website

Nice features might include links to videos, a “locate your nearest Cancer Research shop”, “find Volunteering opportunities in your area now”, etc.

> Creation of a secure mobile web tool that would help patients who are concerned they may have cancer prepare for a consultation with a Doctor and share their concerns. It’s rare that a week passes when the mainstream media isn’t picking up on a failure to communicate and document an encounter between a GP and someone affected by Cancer so there would be plenty of opportunities for Cancer Research UK to promote such an effective listening tool to patients and providers.

Others are good where you’re not so I’d seek to partner to fill gaps rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel. Clinically validated questionnaires are already available for this eg. Instant Medical History.

> The creation of a portfolio of educational made-for-mobile videos that Doctors, Specialists and those affected by cancer can easily share/send with one another (all accessible/actionable through the mobile website of course).

At the end of the videos obviously there would be information about how individuals can support the work of Cancer Research.

> Collaboration with mobile operator’s and device makers

All the major UK telcos good strong interests in developing their mHealth strategy and CSR credentials. Some ideas I’d probably start looking at would be opportunities to preload “check yourself” video content onto mobiles that are sold in the UK, getting telcos to agree to zero rate the CancerResearchUK.uk.org mobile website on their data networks, getting mobiles/SIMs preconfigured with donation SMS’s, etc.

> App Strategy

Instead of asking talent to come and help for free I’d accept that the best mobile app developers don’t work (or volunteer) for you and so I’d try and mobilise the Cancer Research supporters to “vote for their favorite apps” and then bring in the developers of these to find opportunities for collaboration.

Successful app developers will already have customers and so are a ready source of funding that I’d expect could easily pay for the next stage of development.

If I saw anything really good that needed some extra funding I’d get it official Cancer Research UK endorsement so it could go and raise a fortune from a crowd funding community like KickStarter

What would you like to see Cancer Research UK do with mobile?

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One Response to Is Cancer Research UK taking a “Mobile Last” strategy?

  1. Pingback: “Biggest threat to investment in mobile health startups? Not enough unique intellectual property” « mHealth Insight: the blog of 3G Doctor

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