mHealth talk by Healthcare Advertising Agency at the GSMA Mobile Asia Expo

“Building sustainable mHealth services” was a talk given by Marcus Sigurdsson, Lead Digital Catalyst, McCann Healthcare Asia Pacific, McCann Worldgroup, at the GSMA Mobile Asia Expo that was held last month in Shanghai.

For some unclear reason the GSMA Mobile Health Live website doesn’t allow their videos to be downloaded, embedded or comments on so you’ll have to make the jump to watch it.

My thoughts:

Hi everybody, I’m Marcus Sigurdsson and I’m from McCann Health which is a communications agency focusing on healthcare and health companies and I can imagine a few of you are wondering why am I really here. I’m not really a telecoms guy I’m not a 100% healthcare guy we’re a communications agency… yep advertising and stuff like that… which is only half of the truth what we really do is we work with change we try to change peoples mindset, their perception of things and most of all how they behave and we believe this is absolutely essential when it comes to the future of mHealth

Can’t help but get the feeling that Marcus doesn’t appear very confident or assured about the relevance and importance of his firm to the audience.

because to be honest, mHealth isn’t really widely accepted and it’s most certainly not widely used, maybe I could cut myself short and say maybe it’s for the same reason that there’s so few people in this room, but I’ve got more time to this presentation so I won’t do that

Obviously I think it’s obvious that mHealth has provided an important consumer intelligible need that has driven the mass market adoption of mobile, but a presenter speaking about mHealth in Shanghai (the largest city in the People’s Republic of China) at the regions biggest telco event really has no excuse for not having studied the report on mHealth published last year by Cambridge University that has a forward authored by Mr Wang Jianzhou the Chairman of China Mobile (the worlds biggest mobile operator)?

I can’t think of anyone who isn’t prepared to use their mobile phone if they were presented with a medical emergency and we’ve read what the chairman of a Chinese mobile operator with nearly 700 million subscribers thinks about it so how much more widely accepted can it get?

…of course mHealth has been around for a while but even I’m – an ex telecoms guy – getting confused between eHealth, telemedicine, mHealth all these different applications of what it is and what it means and how it fits together and how can I really communicate that to the end user?

Try this mHealth definition for size: mHealth is the leverage of Mobile (the newest mass media) for Health.

…and then there’s always this thing about the mHealth revolution and some of my fellow panelists have mentioned about trials that have been going on for quite a while. We’ve been having trials that appeared 10 years ago and they ran for a while and then more trials. In my mind that’s not really revolution it’s a slow evolution where we have an ecosystem that is slowly trying to adapt to see how can we function with the addition of this new technology

I think Marcus is looking in the wrong direction. If you look at firms that are paying only lip service to the mHealth opportunity with pilots here and there you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s not sustainable. Anything in healthcare requires serious commitment and evidence for the impact this can have can be found not by studying failures but by looking at the industry lead being taken by brands that are 100% committed to mHealth.

There’s no evidence of long failing pilots at companies that are taking a “mobile first approach” eg. us at 3G Doctor (launched in 2006 and steadily growing) or Kaiser Permanente (a big healthcare provider that thanks to it’s mobile first approach now holds a global adoption record for a digital health service).

“…does (mHealth) it really fit into the Doctor environment?”

Why not? Even if it’s value was only limited to helping avoid the unneccessary appointments patients in the UK had with GP’s that’s 51 million consultations.

To make it really clear that’s 40,000 patients who booked appointments, took time off work, made a trip to their Doctors clinic, waited in a waiting room, and finally met a Doctor in her office to discuss… their Dandruff.

“…mHealth or eHealth…”

The use of eHealth and mHealth synonymously isn’t very encouraging. In the world of a communications agency that makes as much sense as having the same strategy with TV and Radio or with your website and newspaper ad campaigns.

About David Doherty
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